When your RAWR goes silent, Part 1

A slight rustling in the grass as just a few blades shift, sounding like the wind. Without noise, without fanfare, it slithers into your midst unbeknownst to you. Slowly it winds around you, surrounding you with the cloak of normalcy. Then it starts to squeeze. With growing force, it closes in on your world, it’s grip starts to tighten. It’s presence clouds your mind and darkens your heart. Slowly, like a constant leaking drip, it leaches your passion and motivation. It smothers your love. It fills your perspective with tears and hisses at positive thoughts. Slowly strangling your happiness, the snake of depression takes over your life, squeezing out the ‘real’ you. Quietly, depression strangles your RAWR into silence.
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Depression is a complicated and fickle creature. Moving into your consciousness with the stealth of a snake, depression can quickly devour and consume a seemingly healthy, happy person. What makes it harder to catch and eradicate is that depression can come at you from many directions.

Part 1: The physical snake : Lack of sunshine

Depression from lack of sun
My first bout with depression was the year my family moved to Fairbanks, Alaska. I was 7 and had spent my entire life in sunny states when the military called us to the great white North. We arrived in the summer during the long days when the sun barely drops below the horizon. With amazing speed, the sun disappeared, plunging us into perpetual darkness. It wasn’t long before my little self felt the effects of no sun. My emotional stability turned into quicksand. I slept more than usual. I also learned the bad habit of emotional eating to feel better. At the time, the technology wasn’t there to support Vitamin D deficiencies and what is now known as SAD. Recognizing the changes in all of us, my mom would diligently fill up spray bottles (yes, mine was magenta) with food colored water, bundle us up and send us outside to art up the yard until it got dark.

(Tip: do not fill spray water bottles with yellow water. You’ll wonder forever which was the kids vs. the dog.)

Life without the sun is no joke. There are people on this earth who can tolerate it better, but only with the right diet and genetics. However, we all need sunshine to hit our eyeballs every day. The sun is a key component to the music of our DNA and controls many metabolic functions, including queing in our serotonin and melatonin. Without those cues to our system, our body won’t function properly. We’ll feel “off”, more tired, more hungry, more irritable. That’s the start. Too long without enough sunshine and we break down.

Sunshine on Guemes Island
There are many therapies designed to help combat those effects and employed with great force in the darker regions of the world. Happy lights, tanning beds, vitamin D supplements, gyms and more are available to combat the lack of sunshine. One simple therapy shared by Deborah Burnett is to have a bright, blue kitchen that you spend time in every morning between 9-11am. The key here is the light bulbs should have a higher Kelvin temperature range and so their light is bluer/ whiter. Cool White is often a key to the higher spectrum.

My other favorite anti-dote is one my mom knew instinctively: exercise. Exercise releases serotonin, endorphins and other “feel good” hormones. When done at the right time of day (before 3pm), exercise can reduce the impact of depression. Breaking a sweat helps to release all of your internal “piss and vinegar” as Raul likes to say, not only boosting your body but also your mind.

If you recognize yourself in any of the above, we encourage you to speak with a health professional. There are many resources out there to help you cope with and overcome depression. Seasonal Affective Disorder and Vitamin D deficiencies exist and there are tools out there to help you. Keep trying them until one clicks for you.

RAWR & ❤

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Because it’s Friday, rawr.

I’ma turn you into a dinosaur today. You know why? Because it’s Friday.

fridaynosaur

Shake it Up

Today is a dreary Thursday. It’s raining. I suppose that should not be a surprise as I live near Seattle where it rains 366 days a year. Yes, 366 days a year, at least in my mind.

What I’ve always found interesting on observation, since I was a wee rex, was how many different modes of movement exist that enable rain to hit my head. And FYI, don’t use an umbrella around here. We all know you’re a tourist or an idiot. When the rain hits, you just buckle down and push through, like a woman birthing without drugs. Woman up and put your umbrella down, or the wind will do it for you.

Oh, Marie, rain is not THAT big of a deal, right?

I know it may not seem like an annoyance and worth getting all up-in-RAWRS about because there are a lot of places that would like a good rain once in awhile. I am very grateful for all the moisture we get. It is the reason we are the Evergreen state and one of the most lush, green places (west of the Cascades) with a Gen-u-ine Rain Forest. I love all the greenery, really, I do! It’s just hard to enjoy it when it feels like the sky is peeing on you all the time. To understand my relationship with rain, study the image below for a moment.

That is how I feel in the rain. So now I’m going to have my moment and wish for the sun and RAWR about how annoying rain can be.

The most Annoying types of Rain I’ve Observed:

The monsoon down pour where the 1.5 seconds it takes you to get to the car door has you and everyone and thing with you drenched to the core. That only happens a couple days a year here. (God bless those living in real monsoons.)

The spring shower, where you look up and see blue sky above you, and yet, somehow, it IS raining on your head. It’s also the third time today this has happened.

The unrelenting rain, where it’s a steady patter, a lighter droplet, enough wetness to cause the dogs to go on a bathroom strike which is too bad for them because it can last for HOURS and sometimes days. Usually the rain wins and the dogs give in. They feel like the lion too.

The mist, a gentle, all encompassing cloud of misty humidity that upon touching curly hair magically turns it into a ‘fro no matter what chemicals were used prior to exposure to said mist.

The sideways mist, a strange cloud of mist moving past you with a ghost-like appearance. It will stop you in your tracks with mesmerizing movements until the cloud of ballet makes sense, “Oh, it IS raining sideways!” Curly hair is no match for this mist either.

Too many encounters with the rain styles above and you may be left feeling like this…

JimBentonComic-DinosaurShakeUp

So on this dreary day, join me in telling the weather to be kind. We all need a break sometime, or we may turn into dinosaurs and… well, you know.

Mental Check

It seems so obvious to me what my flaws are. They glare at me every time I’m faced with them. I don’t like them and don’t like it when those anxieties creep up into my daily awareness. Releasing that track of mean from it’s power is an on-going struggle, at least for now. So I appreciate when my perspective is shifted and those insecurities become visible and burn up in the light of my consciousness, at least for now. The next time I’m finding myself jealous of someone else’s circumstances, I’ll remember this poor Rex.

dinopenisenvy

Ode to the 80’s and the Moon

Ah, the days of Reese’s Pieces and ET phone home… Yup, those were the days, the 80’s. And eventually the wild-n-out RAWR of that decade morphed into the neon nineties. Somewhere in this mix of fashion adventure and extra terrestrials, an amazing shoe was born. It was over the top, the high top, to be exact. It was flashy. It was fahbyoulus. It was… the LA Gear Trainer.

LA-GEAR

Somehow (I can’t remember so it must be magic), I convinced my mom or my grandparents (again, I can’t remember, so maybe it was a wizard) to get me this pair of LA Gear High Tops, but in a crisp black and pink only (bottom right in image below). I will never forget the double laces and how supported my feet felt. I will always love the sassy touch of the side suede ribbing.

LA Gear Trainer

I do remember eeking out a small RAWR of excitement when I got my foot resting on the cushy sole, the double laces laced up, the velcro flap flipped over and velcroed down and the license plate flair promptly added to my key chain collection, I was ready to go. This is also when I discovered my power color. HOT PINK. And it made my wardrobe so much easier! Hot pink or Black leggings, check! Hot pink and black oversized sweatshirt, check! Hot pink or black scrunchie to complement my fountain bangs, CHECK!

So reminisce with me… In the spirit of the recent full moon, I’d like to share this handy mug. You can find it at Zazzle.com. Then, while you drink your coffee out of it, you can chuckle as you remember your early RAWRS.

moon mug

Someone tried but failed to erase the dinosaurs

While searching the far hills for some signs of creativity, my pick axe eyes landed on this fun item at Daniel Smith Art Supply. An eraser that whittles down to a dinosaur skull, a fossil eraser! Find yours here.

Fossil Eraser

Monday at the Office

Monday with the Dinosaurs…

last day for dinosaur office

Potbelly Adventure

Approaching a dangerous level of HANGRY this past week, Raul and I stopped in at a previously un-tested (by us) establishment aptly named Potbelly Sandwich Shop. I had a good feeling about this place. I’m not in Subway anymore.

Potbelly 3

Standing under the menu, trying to keep my mouth from gaping open and drooling, I carefully read through my options. Turkey is my go-to Beneficial meat so I order up.

With Mushrooms please.

Potbelly 3

The very nice lady behind the counter loads my sandwich into the oven where it ambles along the slow belt, toasting up under the heat. I’m too enthralled with my sandwich to look around. Quietly, Raul points out the T-Rex on their chalkboard cabinet.

Potbelly 1

A special lunch for someone who is REALLY HANGRY! RAAAWR!

Potbelly 2

Finally my sandwich is ready and I inhale it in three breaths. I was so HANGRY I forgot to snap a photo like my weird-self normally does, sorry! It was really good. Gooey cheese, turkey crisped at the edges, a nicely toasted bread and mushrooms.

As I’m cooling down from the HANGRY attack I finally look around the place and notice the fabulous job by the HVAC team. So clever!

Potbelly 4

Dino Friends at Freddies for Easter

While browsing the ridiculously low priced past-Valentine’s day candy to replenish my chocolate stash, I was shocked to see Easter toys already out! We’ve still got to get through St. Patty’s Day! So intrigued by the Easter toys and caught reminiscing about all my awesome Easter Egg hunts as a kid and their resulting chocolate stashes… I wandered the aisles until I stopped in my tracks at these cheerful rawrs.

Dino friends 1

They are NOT dog toys but dino buddies for your babies and big boys in cheery colors and a species for every species. A lot of kids come born with their RAWR out and unabashed and learn to tamper it down as they grow older, fitting in with society. Instead of the Rat Race, let’s stick with the Dinosaur Age and learn to RAWR a little.

Dino Friends 2

Dino Friends 3

Dino Friends 4

In my area, Fred Meyer sells Kroger, so you may find them at your local Kroger affiliate. Happy Hunting!

Dino Squishies at Target

With one big and one little Doggie-sidekick, I’m always on the look out for new “squishies”* or soft dog toys to keep their minds occupied. We have some pretty high standards too. Squishies must be well seamed, durable, and of course, enticing to gnaw on.

Dinosaur Dog Toys Target 1

Raul and I stumbled upon some new selections** at Target. They’ve got a few different color flavors to suit any dog. $7.99 for a slice of rawr, so check your local Target.

Dinosaur Dog Toy Target 2

If you’re looking for some solid dino Squishies, check out QPG’s other Dino collection. We’ve had good success with some of their toys, “Chicken” is a favorite.

Dinosaur Dog Toy Target 3

*Squishies is not in reference to any child. We do not condone doggies gnawing on kiddos. Or babies.

*We have not tested these particular dinosaur squishies yet, but will post a review when the girls have completed their evaluations.

Happy RAWR day

What? It’s not RAWR day! It’s Valentine’s Day silly!

I can see how you might think that but don’t be fooled!

Today is a day to celebrate love and by most accounts there’s a few types of love that we’re celebrating today. There’s friend-love- that “gosh-I-just-love-my-bff-how-did-she-know-I-needed-that-bitch-sesh?!?-How did I survive without her?” There’s hubby-love- that “ooh!-He-did-get-me-the-special-expensive-chocolate-today!” and of course, kiddo-love. “Aww-my-sweet-kiddo-look-at-what-they-made-for-me!” I won’t leave out family-love because “I-love-you-too-ma!” But beneath all that love, there’s more, much more.

the Portland RAWR

the bright RAWR behind love and passion

Beneath the chocolates and the pleasantries and extra texts and phone calls, there’s love. Beneath love is passion. Beneath passion is RAWR. “RAAAAWWWRRRRR” is where we find the strength to love so deeply, care so much and panic like crazy to express it. Real love, that passionate love that would compel you to leap before a bus for your loved one, comes from a most primal spot in our hearts and souls. From that same spot comes our RAWR. In my humble opinion, RAWR is what powers love.

Even when we don’t have love, we still got RAWR. So today, Happy RAWR day.

RAWR & LOVE <3 Marie

RAWR & LOVE, Marie

Dino Diggs at Costco!

I happen to live pretty much equidistant between two Costco’s aaaannnddd I have a membership. So I go there. A lot. When I think about my culture, I’m pretty sure I’m a part of the Costco culture. As much as I love Costco, I am not quite one of their disciples. We usually go with a budget, which is less fun, but more practical.

If you aren’t familiar with Costco (or Sam’s Club, just Walmart’s version), I have to ask in what hole has your head been stuck for the last 10 years? So I will assume we all know how awesome Costco is. Yes, it’s hard to find anything for less than $10 and even harder to leave spending less than $100, but that is because they are so good at temptation.

“Oh yes, get your toilet paper, but we’ll make you walk to the back of the store for it, past all the goodies!!! MWAHAHAHA!”

With a little extra free time, I found myself wandering the aisles, contemplating what gadget or gizmo would actually make my life better.  Aside from the bulk quinoa and a dog bed, I didn’t find much. That is… until I found THESE! I had to restrain myself from L-I-T-E-R-A-L-L-Y  “SQUEEE”ing in the store. If I had a million dollars I’d buy these all up and distribute out RAWRS like party favors. But alas, I don’t have a million dollars, so you’ll have to settle for some photos.

Costco Dinosaurs 1 Costco Dinosaur 2 Costco Dinosaurs 2

My only two comments back to Costco would be, where are the PINK dinosaur jammies? Even girls like dinos. And find some grown up footie pajamas, please. You know those would sell like hot dogs!

Minions vs. Friends

Dear Readers, you have my apologies for the silence this past week. Sometime around last Tuesday, I hit that wall called the mental block and it wasn’t letting anything in, or out! It took a few days of some good girlfriends time, some good workouts, some nature time and a wee-bit of trashy tv. I just needed some time for my mind-funk to pass.  Of all that I did this past week to clear the mental blockage, time with my girlfriends hit it home the best. And that time (and, well, the trashy tv too) got me thinking… what does a good friend, a true friend, look like?

Growing up a military brat and moving every couple of years forced me to become somewhat adept at making friends.

I learned that you never say yes to the first guy at a new school who asks you out (reputations are transferable) and always treat everyone as you would want to be treated (you do catch more flies with honey than vinegar).

But none of that really adds up to equal good, lasting friendships. I’m not talking about the friends that you chit-chat with when you pass each other in the grocery store. I’m talking about the friendships that make you certain you knew this person in a previous life.

Goat friends

Hmm… maybe we were pigs in our last life?

In all my un-worldly travels, I’ve met a lot of gals who I thought wanted to be friends with me, but really, they just wanted minions. They want a “friend” to listen to all their woes, be at their side through adventure, be their shoulder to cry on and laugh at all their jokes. Um, isn’t that what a real friend does? Well, the catch is, when that effort is one-sided, she doesn’t want a friend, she wants a minion. Real friendships require reciprocity. Real friends will be your shoulder to cry on, but you also have to be their shoulder to cry on too. You gotta give a little, take a little, don’t make me start singing the story of love

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When trying to understand your relationships, you may have to ask yourself, of all the people in my life, who is looking for a minion and who is looking for a friend? It can be hard to tell. Minion-seekers will invite you out to do things. They’ll talk to you often. They’ll probably ask you for favors. So how do you know if you’re a minion or a friend?

How to tell if you’re a friend or a minion…

Are you a Minion or a Friend?

Are you a Minion or a Friend?

1. When you chat, do they ask detailed questions about your life now? If they ask you a couple of general questions and then switch the topic to their problems for the entire conversation, you might be a minion. Real friends will know details about what’s been going on in your life and they’ll remember to ask you for updates, even years later.

2. Do you hang out alone or are there always other people around? If they are always surrounded by an entourage and you’re just a face in the passing crowd, you might be a minion. If they are always surrounded by an entourage but you get dibs after Queen Friend, you might be a minion.  Real friends will seek time out with you, even if it’s just a few minutes, to connect with just you.

3. If you ask them for a small favor, how do they respond?  If you ask something reasonable and get a no with a lame-o excuse, (“Um, I have to wash my dogs hair at 2pm on Thursday), you might be a minion. Any form of yes (even if a payment is required, such as a day pass to a nekked spa), you know you got a keeper.

So if you find yourself a minion, and you’re ok with a one-sided relationship. Congrats. I think you should contact Bravo because they’ve got a spot on a show for you!

If you find yourself a minion and you want real friends with real cares and real fun, then be brave young Rex and cut that Minion-seeker out of your life! Real friends do take time and energy, but when it’s reciprocated, it’s worth it.

If you find yourself with real friends, congratulations for real because you have a solid network of people who love you.

If YOU are the minion-seeker, quite frankly, I don’t expect you to see yourself as one. I just hope your minions take a bite of your power and RAWR with some real friends soon.

If YOU are a real friend, thank you. You save lives by caring.

Here’s to eating the minions and RAWR-ING with real friends!

Too many d*cks on the dancefloor…

A Reader: There’s the Testosterone Conundrum… Teenage boy + step father = constant conflict & disagreements so what do I do?

Father and Son

Boys boys boys. Growing up in a house full of two “little” brothers, a wrestling match or stinky hamper was never far away. Neither was a fight over our mom’s attention. Like two dueling dancers, they’d each try to out-do the other until she noticed. Even when you love the boys in your life they can be stinky, LOUD, rude, and messy all at once without realizing it themselves. Lots of testosterone can certainly strain a family relationship. It doesn’t even take a full grown boy to disrupt a family dynamic, even a Preggosaurus Rex growing a little boy can produce enough testosterone to kick the circus off-queue. So what is a mama rex to do when the going gets too RAWR?

The first step is to channel it. I like to think of testosterone as steam in a kettle. The more of it a guy has, the more forcefully he needs it to be turned into spent energy. You can’t just cap the steam and expect it to go away, it needs a healthy outlet. Finding some activity they can do together, maybe it’s race RC cars, or go to batting practice or work on a car, or whatever it may be for your boys, will go a long way in helping them bond in a healthy way. The more healthy outlets they have in common, the stronger a relationship they’ll be able to build.

There’s also some sticky family dynamics at play, underneath all the hormones and beating their chests with fists. There is a father-son dynamic that needs support. Right now, as a teenager, your son can’t see the big picture and long term because his pre-frontal cortex is just not quite there. It will take him a few years to realize your husbands’ actions aren’t putting restrictions on him or reigning him in just to be mean, but rather to give him guidance that typically comes from Dad. Finding ways to nurture this bond is tricky and often, a well-intentioned plan can backfire in your face. Some degree of Mama-Sneak is called for, but not too much. You can send them on errands together, find new activities that they both have to try (outdoor stuff is good because they burn much more energy and come home tired!), but be careful being too sneaky in setting activities up.

Something that seems to work well for the men I love in my life, but certainly is not appropriate for everyone, is being the rube for them in those crucial bonding situations. When they can be on the same ‘team’ because they’re both laughing with (and usually at) me, I don’t take it personal because I know they in the end, they’ll be more bonded, and it’s not like there’s any less love then.

The other consideration is to be an open listener for your son. This means to LISTEN and not judge or try to problem solve but just listen. He’s reaching an age where he wants to emotionally attach and if you and him have a good relationship, he’ll attach back to you. This is not attachment in some weird way but rather he’ll develop a deeper trust with you. He’ll be comfortable sharing more than the typical teenage boy shares with his mother about the happenings of his life. The goal is for you and his Step-father to be there for him as a solid support- through dumb decisions and good decisions.

And when all else fails, “RAWR” at them.

The only biscuits worth a RAWR

The Biscuit Showdown

SATURDAY

Mmmmaaaaauuuuggghhh… A Homer-style moan with drool pours from between my teeth as I dream of biscuits. No, not those biscuits, mind out of the gutter and into the flour please. A well-formed and perfectly baked biscuit is a surefire start to a great brunch. What’s that you say Marie? Biscuits for brunch? Why yes dear reader. Biscuits for brunch is my favorite weekend pastime in Portland, Oregon and is so RAWR-worthy. A few weekends ago Raul, his sister and I found ourselves on a Biscuit Showdown. Without showboating, let’s just say we were seeking some incredible biscuits and found them.

It began early Saturday, well, early enough. On a brisk, sunny morning, we left homebase and began the trek. A short walk brought us to the doorstep of the Grand Central Bakery. One step inside yields smells that will haunt you for a lifetime- that sweet bakery aroma. Tempting me with pastries, it takes all my strength to stay on task… biscuit! Needing a shot of protein I go for the Cheddar Egg biscuit sandwich.
Cheddar Egg Biscuit Sandwich

After an impatient wait spent pacing, I was handed a warm goodie wrapped in branded paper. Ruthlessly ripping open the paper as if I was going to find some Channing Tatum but instead it was even better… a light, fluffy and just ever-so-slightly crumbly biscuit cradling a soft and perfectly cooked and peppered egg and cheddary cheese center. I barely got a photo before it got devoured.

After inhaling the amazing biscuit combination, I didn’t need a nap afterwards (though I took one anyway).

SUNDAY

Awaking from a good sleep, Raul, his sister and I embarked on the next adventure to Pine State Biscuits. We chose the location with the most seats so the three of us would have the best shot at eating indoors, on location. All I remember about getting there was the rumble of my tummy and the anxious anticipation awaiting my taste buds. Raul has been there before but to me, this was all new. Arriving at the door, we’re greeted by a sign saying to wait outside if there isn’t room inside. Ok then, crowd control is usually a good sign. We barely squeak through the door with no real room to spare in line behind us. Thankfully the wait is enough time to study the menu posted above.

Deciding to keep it biscuits to biscuits, I forego the more famous combinations and order an Egg & Cheese biscuit sandwich. Not to disappoint my dear readers, Raul orders the Reggie, his sister orders the Reggie Deluxe. We luck out on seats just inside the main dining space (which seats about 20 people).

Eager waiting and watching for our order pays off as dish by dish gets called up. Anticipating a photo before the food came, once it arrived in front of me, I actually forgot to take a photo. It was that good. I don’t think I can fully describe it because I inhaled it. Literally i-n-h-a-l-e-d it.  We all forgot to take a photo so I am including one right from the source. Below is the Pine State Biscuits’ money shot of the Reggie Deluxe. Are you speechless yet?

Pine State Biscuits

So for a biscuit-to-biscuit comparison here’s

the breakdown:

Egg & Cheese Biscuit Sandwich: The RAWRS go to Grand Central Bakery. For a light, crisp biscuit paired perfectly with a just-done-enough egg and the tang of aged cheddar stacked against the denser, less flaky biscuit from Pine State makes the comparison clear.

Fried Chicken and Biscuits: Are you ready for the twist? When you throw a piece of crisply fried chicken in-between those dense biscuits, magic happens. The sandwich takes on a whole new dimension of goodness. The biscuits carefully cradle the chicken adding a saltiness that leaves you licking your fingers.

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