All posts by Dee Kelly

I'm a single mom who has gone through my share of struggles. As I work to improve my life I also hope to help others along the way. It hasn't been easy but it is always worth it.

Uncompromising

When you think of parenting do you think of uncompromising standards or needing to compromise at every turn?  For me, and I would guess most of us, it would be a bit of both.

Raising kids, especially as a single mother often requires compromise.  I can’t fight the girls over every life detail.  They don’t want to clean their room?  Close the door.  They don’t want to eat what I have planned for dinner?  Have them help make something different that they do want.  They don’t want to help plant the flower beds?  Invite their friends over and turn it into a party.  Compromise.

My life is full of compromise.  But I do have standards, ways in which I am uncompromising.

We will be on time for commitments, whether it be work, school or meeting up with friends.

We will maintain the common areas of our house at an acceptable level of messiness.

We will behave responsibly.

We will treat those around us with kindness (ok, we’re working on this one).

We will have fun, enjoy life and appreciate all we have.

In these ways, I am uncompromising.  I encourage my kids, friends, family and those around me to be uncompromising as well!

Uncompromising

What Makes You Happy?

Are you happy? When I was married happiness always seemed elusive. “I’ll be happy when” was a common thought.

*I’ll be happy when the car is paid off.
*I’ll be happy when the project at work is finished.
*I’ll be happy when the kids are sleeping through the night.
*I’ll be happy when the kitchen is remodeled.
*I’ll be happy when I go on vacation.
*I’ll be happy when I get my tax return.
*I’ll be happy when I get a promotion/raise.

I was almost happy but if things were just a little different, a little better I’d be happier.

After my divorce I wondered if I could just BE happy. What did it take to be happy? Surely it can’t be this hard to just be happy. I Googled “happiness” or “how to be happy” or something similar (yup…honestly). I read what Gretchen Rubin wrote about her Happiness Project (before she turned it into a book in 2015). I read The Pursuit of Happiness by Jennifer O’Neill.

And I started to form a plan. I was going to choose to be happy. I was going to work on things that would lead to real happiness.

It didn’t happen overnight. It actually took years of reading, thinking and learning to actually figure out how to be happy. But the thing about happiness is that it’s all in your mind. It’s your perspective of events.

I started to take each negative thought (“I hate my life”, “I’m so lonely”) and instead think something positive. I decided to do something about what I was thinking negatively about. I’ve always liked writing so in response to thinking “I hate my life” I signed up for an online writing course (my schedule with my kids kept me from taking a live class which would have been even better). When I started to feel lonely I got online and started looking for Meetup groups to join (if you haven’t heard about Meetup check them out online and I’ll post about my experience later).

I started pushing each negative thought into a positive action. What negative thought could you take action on today?

Cauliflower Hash Browns

This is one of the easiest cauliflower dishes I make.  I use just 4 ingredients:

1 cup precooked riced cauliflower, cooled

1 egg

1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I use 2%)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

I buy the frozen steam in bag riced cauliflower to save time.  The cauliflower must be cooked prior to creating the hash browns and it will need to be cool enough to work with.

Tightly squeeze all water from the cauliflower.  There are many ways to do this.  You can wrap it in cheese cloth and squeeze.  You can wrap it in paper towels (you’ll probably need to repeat this a few times to get most of the water out).  I tend to just use my hands.  The more water you squeeze out of the cauliflower the better the consistency of the hash browns.  This is the hardest part of this recipe and honestly in a rush I’ve skipped it all together and it tasted just fine.

In a separate dish whisk one egg until it’s well blended.  Then add in the cauliflower and cheese.  You can add salt, pepper and any other seasonings you like.

Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a small frying pan and preheat the pan over medium heat.

Using your hands form the cauliflower mixture into a patty and place in the hot oil.  Cook until both sides are light brown.

Helpful hint: I prefer my patty to be very thin, but that can make it hard to flip.  Instead I make a thick patty, let it cook on one side, then after I’ve flipped it to the second side flatten it until it’s thin.  Then before removing the patty I’ll flip it over one more time to fully cook the first side.

Photo provided by Objects and the Distance Between Them. I’m so glad you tried this. Thanks for the picture!

What Does the Future Hold?

If you’ve read my previous posts, so far I’ve talked about choosing to start over after my divorce.  I was unhappy and unhealthy and I knew that this was not what I wanted for my life.  I didn’t know how to change it, I just knew I needed to start by changing me.  That’s it.  That’s all I had to work from.

So I started with what I love – reading.  I went to the library and checked out books.  I Googled books on self-improvement and parenting.  I talked to people about books they found influential. And I read.  I read all the time.  

One of first books I read that really changed my thinking was The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.  It was recommended to me by a virtual stranger one day so I downloaded it and read it.  I can’t say that I agree with the overarching ideals of the book, but I will review the book in a separate post.  The premise of the book is that you can control your universe by controlling your thoughts.  

While I had a hard time with concepts such as “if you think about money coming in, money will appear” there were a lot of ideas in the book that really spoke to me.  Most importantly, as a result of this book I took time to visualize what I wanted my life to be; visualize who I wanted to be.

This was my first time writing in a journal, but I felt that I needed to write down a picture of what my life could be like.  I tried to be very concrete and included details that might not end up matching reality but that brought this future to life.  I included color, sounds, smells, names.  I wanted to be able to see this every time I closed my eyes.  Over the course of several weeks I would add to or change this future I was envisioning for myself but most of the larger components remained the same.

What came into focus from this exercise were my priorities.  I started to realize what was most important to me, what areas I wanted to focus on first.  

My current life is nothing like the one I envisioned so many years ago.  But this was truly the first time I felt completely in control of my future.  If you’ve never tried this before, try it now and let me know how it goes!

Cauliflower

I used to hate cauliflower.  I still don’t like the taste of cauliflower on its own, but I’ve discovered that due to its mild nature it is good in a lot of dishes.  It’s very low in calories and full of nutrients that will make you feel good.  It’s also high in fiber which will help keep you feeling full!

If you “rice” the cauliflower (chop it up into bits the size of rice) it can be used either as a substitute or supplement to the higher calorie food.

When I first started making cauliflower dishes I would buy the whole head of cauliflower, cut it painstakingly into florets then put the florets in my Ninja and chop it up.  It was a tedious process but worked.  It’s now very common to find riced cauliflower in the freezer or produce section of the grocery store.  I am more than willing to sacrifice control over the size of the pieces to save all the cutting.

I usually buy it frozen and steam it right in the bag.  I’ll post some recipes to get you going!

Going It Alone

I am a twin.  I am introverted and in most social situations very shy.  I have had more than my share of low self esteem and self doubt.  I am a homebody who likes solo activities like reading and writing.

And yet I’ve made a discovery that I wish every shy, scared, timid woman would learn.  Something that changed me and my approach to life so drastically I hardly remember being shy.

Quite simply, I started going out alone.  Completely, totally, 100% alone.  I never would have considered eating out alone.  If I wanted dinner and didn’t want to cook I’d order takeout.  If I wanted to go to the movies or see a show I’d wait until I had someone to go with (or not go).

Then I met someone.  He was the most outgoing person I had ever met.  He would go on vacation alone, hang out in bars and talk to anyone, everyone.  We met online and the first night we met we stopped to get gas and he met someone at the gas station.  He made me realize that there was nothing wrong with doing things alone.  Without knowing it he taught me how.

The night we met we talked to more people than I’d met since I’d moved to FL.  After that one night I decided to try it on my own.  I started someplace safe – the bar at Chilis.  I sat at the bar, ordered a drink and some chips.  I talked to the bartender.  I didn’t meet anyone that night but I realized it wasn’t that hard.  It gave me the confidence to try again.

One night I was at the beach for sunset and drove by a bar.  Noticing that there were a lot of cars in the parking lot I took a deep breath and pulled in.  It was nerve wracking.  I had never been to this bar before, never mind going in alone.  I paused at the door and listened to the music being piped through the speakers.  Somehow that reassured me and I went in.  I quickly found an empty seat at the bar and sat down.  Someone was playing a guitar and singing so I ordered a drink and focused on him.  I didn’t meet anyone that night but I suddenly realized that I was actually enjoying myself.

The next night I found myself back at the beach for sunset and went back to the same bar.  I walked in a little more confidently.  I looked at the people around me more.  I made eye contact and smiled.  And someone came over to talk to me.  We talked for a while, he bought me a drink, and then someone else came up to talk to me.  I spent a couple hours there, talking to people, listening to music and in general having a great time.

I started going there once a week, sometimes more.  I found that about half the time I would meet someone, the other half of the time I would enjoy the music.  Some nights I would show up and they would have a football game playing instead of music so I left after a quick drink (although these might have actually been good nights to meet someone).

Many things happened once I started doing this.  I built self confidence.  I stood a little taller, smiled more and made eye contact more often.  I learned how to hold a conversation with a complete stranger which came in handy when I got into online dating.  My self esteem improved.  Only good came of this.  I had been so worried about being out alone – and nothing bad happened at all.  Not everyone I talked to ended up being someone I wanted to spend more time with, but each of them helped me in a way.

There is more to me than being a single mom.  I started to realize that I could be a good mother and discover who I was as an individual at the same time.

If you have never gone out alone I challenge you to spend 1 hour alone in a bar.  That’s it, no more.  Then let us know how it went in the comments.

Two Ingredient Banana Pancakes

My favorite breakfast at the moment are pancakes that I make with just 2 ingredients:

1 banana
1 egg

I will also add about 1 tsp vanilla extract if I think of it. I will often heat about 1/3 cup frozen mixed berries in the microwave that I mash to put on top. But even if you have nothing but a banana and an egg it makes for a simple delicious breakfast.

Simply mash 1 medium banana, then using a fork beat in 1 egg (I also use the Ninja to do this if I don’t want to do it by hand). Add mixture to a small preheated pan over medium heat. It can be difficult to flip but it’s possible. As the batter hardens I push the edges toward the center making the pancake thicker and smaller. When the top of the pancake is more cake than batter I flip it. I find this works almost every time. I also have the Perfect Pancake Pan (link below) which makes flipping a lot easier since all you need to do is flip the pan, not the pancake.

Either way, this breakfast will run about 200-250 calories and I find it will satisfy me for hours.