Happy new year, everyone! I know it's a little behind the times, but I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday break.
Unfinished business: Life got crazy for me right around the time that my last giveaway ended and I completely forgot that I had a giveaway going until just a couple days ago. I apologize to any of you who lost any sleep due to the anxiety of wondering who won. As it would be, I have the winners now! Plus, I've added 1 more winner to the mystery selection cookbook giveaway because you all had to wait so dang long! Hannah M., Beth Cotler, and JoAnn Lakes will each be receiving a mystery selection of vegan cookbooks and Jillian O'Donohoe will be winning a copy of my book, But I Could Never Go Vegan!. Thank you to everyone who entered!
I often hear from readers that they really appreciate my honesty and when I allow myself to be vulnerable here. And when I'm reading other people's blogs or writing, I find that when someone is open and honest about what they're going through and what they're feeling, that is when I feel a connection with them. When I read something that makes me say to myself "Oh my god, I'm not alone!," sometimes that carries me through the rest of my day. Or week. Or month. What I'm about to share, I truly hope will give some of you that same feeling of knowing that you're not alone in this.
I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder when I was 15 years old. I've managed it with and without medications for the last 20 years. For the most part, aside from majorly stressful situations, I know how to handle my anxiety. My depression, however, has always come and gone throughout my life. I can look back at different periods of my life and know which ones were shadowed by depression. And its schedule is so erratic- sometimes it's just a few weeks or months in between bouts and sometimes it's years. Up until last September, I hadn't been visited by depression for 8 or 9 years. I didn't even recognize it when it returned. I'd thought that somehow, I'd become so unbelievably happy that I scared it off forever.
The weird thing about depression is how much it twists your thoughts. I have an amazing life and I have been unbelievably blessed and I know this. I've achieved goals I never thought I would've, I've travelled and seen beautiful places, I have a wonderful family, and I'm married to my best friend and perfect partner. And I know this. But depression would have me believe that it's all fake, it's all a sham, and that, worst of all, I'm not deserving of any of it. He tells you don't really care about those things that you know deep down in your soul that you love. He's a tricky bastard, that depression.
But I've been dealing with it. Even when life throws me curveballs.
A few weeks ago, I ransacked my house. I tore through every storage box, emptied every drawer, dug through the junk in the garage, but to no avail. Over the summer, we boxed up everything in our office, remodeled, and then reorganized. During that process, I lost a framed picture of me and my mother. Way back in the day, the women in my family would all take a trip to San Francisco. On one such trip, my grandmother, all of her daughters, one daughter in-law, and all of her granddaughters descended upon the city, and while at the beach or the pier (my memory is fuzzy) someone took a picture of me and my mom. I was super 90's grunge (complete with a flannel tied around my waste) and my mom was just happy and smiling. It was just before she got sick.
My mother had a series of auto-immune diseases and for the next 20 years, she was in tremendous pain. She took loads of different medications over the years to numb the pain, to make life bearable. As it often happens with extreme pain, she became a different person from the fun-loving, happy person she once was. A couple days before Christmas, my dad took my mom to the hospital because she had a small cough and she seemed weak. He left to grab dinner while they ran tests. When he returned, she was unconscious and unable to breathe without oxygen. It was pneumonia. Because she'd been ill for so long and because she now had chirrosis, due to all the medications she'd taken over the years, she was unable to fight it. She passed away on January 6th, surrounded by her family. Today, it's been 7 weeks since I've lost my mother.
Her Celebration of Life (which was shared with her brother who passed away less than 48 hours after my mother, also from pneumonia) was on January 30th. I wore a necklace my mother had given me (she loved costume jewelry with a hot, fiery passion that borderlined on pure obsession) and I toasted her. She had always been The Fun Mom and I shared stories about the woman I knew before she'd gotten sick. The times when we'd stay up late watching movies and eating ice cream, when she would blare Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar," so loud in the car, I could barely hear my mom screaming the lyrics along with the music, the way she used cookie cutters to cut my sandwiches into hearts and bunnies. I talked about how fiercely she loved her friends and family with every ounce of her being. And the way she always told everyone she held dear how much they meant to her. Every single phone conversation with her ended with her telling me how much she loved me. She would even finish her voicemails that way. I cried my way through my toast, with my sweet brother rubbing my back the whole time.
So one afternoon, after pouring through the storage box with all of my old photos (where I'd sworn I'd put that picture of my mother and I in San Francisco) and only turning up one blurry picture of my mother (she hated being photographed), I lost it. With tears stinging my eyes, I set off on a mission to find this one damn picture that would show me that there was a time when I was with her when she wasn't sick. A time when things were normal. And so I ransacked my house. Unsuccessful, I cleaned everything up before Chris came home. The picture is still missing. Luckily, for the memorial, my cousins and aunt pulled together some pictures of her for a sweet slideshow that played throughout the afternoon. These are a few of my favorites.
So the last couple months have been particularly tough. Everything seems particularly overwhelming, even if it's just something like putting on make-up or answering emails. Sometimes, even scrolling through Facebook is just too much. I'm an introvert so naturally, I'm holing up in my cave as much as possible. This involves lots of cuddling with my dogs and re-watching every episode of Sex And The City (all of which I've seen many times, but interestingly, this is the first time I've watched it in about 8 years and I must say, it definitely stands the test of time!) and baking lots of chocolate chip cookies. The success of each day is judged first by how easily I'm able to get out of bed and secondly, by if I can make it through an entire work-day without a.) crying on the drive to the office, b.) crying at my desk, c.) avoiding eye contact and/or conversation with co-workers, and d.) leaving early to go home and watch SATC.
I'm working through my grief and my depression and it's going to be a process. I have good days and bad days. I'm coming to terms with the fact that I have an illness and sometimes, it makes life a little more difficult. But it's part of who I am. It's my normal. I'm learning to not be too hard on myself when I can't make myself do things. I'm learning to not be ashamed of my feelings and I'm learning to feel that I'm not less of a person for having them. Most importantly, I've begun reminding myself that it isn't permanent, that this depression will leave again. Chris and I are learning how to deal with each other's grief and how to be strong partners when the other is weak. We are getting really good at it. A friend told me that mourning a parent is a sacred experience and I'm trying to keep in mind what a special time this is. This time of remembering and missing and cherishing my mother is part of a passage into a new chapter in my life. I'm learning to relish the moments when I don't feel weighed down, when I feel free enough to laugh whole-heartedly, when I'm able to cuddle with my husband and forget everything for a few wonderful moments, when my heart feels like exploding when I see how happy and full of love my dogs are, when I'm able to look up from my thoughts and really, truly see and feel the world around me. It's because I'm feeling a lot of ickiness, that those moments of pure happiness are even more exceptional and exhilarating.
I don't know when I'll be posting another recipe here. I'm hoping that it's soon, and I know I will at some point, but I can't make any promises as to when. But if I've learned anything from my mother, it's that I need to tell you all how much you mean to me. Probably without realizing it, you've brought so much joy to my life. With every comment on the blog or on social media (Even though I don't have the energy to respond to the majority of them- I do read each and every one), with every picture you share of my recipes that you've made, you make my heart smile. I really love you and I look forward to sharing more good, kind food with you soon.
And because I don't want to leave this on a "Woe Is Me" sort of note, here's a few things that have made me really happy, or at the very least, gave me a really good laugh:
- On Christmas Eve, while watching Home Alone with Chris, the twins, Chris's oldest son and his girlfriend, I laughed so hard that I farted really loud. Which made me laugh even harder. And then I had to apologize to everyone.
- I turned my manuscript for my second book into the publisher. It was 11 days late, but I did it. This weekend, we'll be wrapping up photography for the book, and I'm really happy about that too.
- I got to meet my cousin's new baby at my mother's Celebration of Life. They live in Nevada and I haven't seen them in awhile. While I'm really more of a dog person (babies generally scare me to death), my cousins make tremendously amazing and beautiful babies and I was so excited to meet Baby Zane. I was even happier to learn that they're planning on moving back to California later this year!
- When I was saying good-bye to Adam, Baby Zane's brother (aged 3, I believe), I asked "Can I have a hug?" His response: "Yes, and maybe next time, you can have another one." See note above re: my cousins' darling children.
- On our drive home, Max told us "We need to hang out with Kristy's family more often. They're way funnier than I am." He has a point.
- I discovered Broad City.
- Buster (the formerly extremely skittish rescue from a hoarder) has been gaining confidence in spades and has actually become the alpha between he and Maeby! All of this confidence finally gave him what he needed to put his emotions aside (for a moment) and learn his first command: "Sit." This was such a HUGE accomplishment. I was a giddy, proud mama the rest of the day (and I still am. Who am I kidding?). And to finish this on a super happy note, here's a picture of the two of them doing what they do best: Being ridiculously adorable.
Oh Kristy, I can relate on so many levels. I've battled depression on & off my whole life. I thought I'd finally gotten a handle on it & boom, a difficult breakup/betrayal left me a shell of my former self. I haven't blogged, exercised, cooked, or done yoga in months. I manage to get myself out of bed & to work, but it's exhausting & a daily struggle to just put one foot in front of the other. I recently found a new therapist & am trying EMDR & hoping that will help my healing process. My heart goes out to you, sending you love & holding space for your happiness.
I applaud and admire your strength and courage in writing this piece. Thank you for sharing, and may you have more and more good days with the coming of spring!
Things that make me smile:
1) Deciding to live every day as a new adventure, instead of a "thing to get past".
2) Friends and friends of friends who encourage you on your adventure
3) The relaxation of yoga ... when I allow myself the time
4) Farmer's Markets and CSA's in my new home
5) Smiling at strangers and getting a smile in return
Hi Kristy, thank you for sharing your personal space, that is very brave of you. In case it is relevant for you too - I have found from personal experience that grief has nothing helpful to offer after 8pm. So I grieve however I like until 8pm, but after that it is time to give myself permission to rest, engage in some light distraction (SATC is perfect) and not let my hyperactive mind go back there until the morning. And if it tries, gently telling it to shhhhhh until morning, when it can do as it likes again.
take good care of yourself.
Kristy, I can relate to so many things that you wrote: I too suffered a loss that tore me apart and thrust me into a depression that I'm still coming to terms with. I'm also an introvert whose instinct is to hide away from the world in those moments. I admire your strength and your ability to see the good that remains, which is something I'm working on. Things that have made me smile? Buster coming home was definitely one of them! 🙂 And my own furbabies always make me smile. I love watching them sleep and burying my face in their fur. Thinking about the perfect plain raised doughnut. And a good piece of dark chocolate. Somehow it always comes back to sweets 🙂 Sending love and hugs. Grateful that you share your talent with us.
Oh honey. I can so relate to your feelings on the loss of your mom. It takes a long time to deal with the grief, and that's ok. You're allowed to miss her - it's proof that she was such an amazing mother! It's also great to talk to friends, a counselor, find a grief program (such as ourhouse-grief.org), spend time doing things that make you happy, and giving back in her name. Sending my love and gratitude for all you do, and for your honesty and courage. It gets better. And I'm sure that someone as fun and giving as your mom, would insist that you allow yourself to feel happy and move forward and enjoy your life and family and world all around you. xo
Not really reading blogs at the moment myself but owed it to you to sit down and read your thoughts since you've taken the time to send me a text in the midst of the horrible time I'm currently going through with my mom, despite how you are going through your own personal hell. Did I tell you how much that meant to me? It's been a blur, these last 2 weeks, so im nor su2r what I said back but know I remember your incredibly kind gesture and hold it dear to my heart. I got home today (going back this weekend) but I had this overwhelming desire to find photos of my mom, just like you described in this post. Thank you for sharing all of this and thank god for farting (I laughed so hard at that!) It's been so apparent to me how important it is to laugh during such heartbreaking parts of life like this and nothing cuts more to the heart of humor relief than passing gas. Much love friend! xoxox
I'm so, so sorry for your loss, Kristy. I think I speak for all your readers when I say take all the time you need to take care of yourself as best you can. We'll be waiting for you whenever you can make it back here, and supporting you all of the way.
I am grateful for you sharing your story. My mom has had many of the same struggles as your mom, and I had temporarily forgotten about the past fun things that we had done together pre-meds, until you reminded me. Thank you!
So grateful for this post. I'm in the midst of a major pain flare up that has swung me deep into sadness and anger. I know I will come out the other side, but it's so deflating. I've always used motion, activity, and exercise to combat the blues and can't due to the pain. You have made me affirm that I know I will be okay and to pay attention to the good stuff. My mom is a force and am ever grateful for her as well. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability, truly!
Hi Kristy, I lost my mom at the end of last summer. It was very sudden (she woke up with chest pain and collapsed) which to me made it even harder.
Every day I think of all the wonderful things about her that make me happy even down to the littlest things like how perfectly symmetrical and small she could cut carrots for stir fry 🙂 I can see her now sitting at my kitchen table prepping for me.
One of the things that makes me smile every day is the way my daughter sees things differently than me. She is 12 and she still can see amazing things in regular things (not like lots of adults who skim over the details in life). She told me yesterday that the smudge on the window looked like a tiny baby footprint. I had seen the smudge there and made note to myself that I needed to wash it off. Now that I realize it looks like a tiny baby footprint toes and all I'm not so anxious to wash it off. Especially since it reminds me of my daughter and keeps me smiling. Hugs.
I really needed to read this right now. To know you are not alone is such an important acknowledgment when it comes to depression. I've struggled with it for years coming and going as it pleases, sometimes without rhyme or reason. I'm going through a particularly bad time of it as well, and it truly helps to hear other people stories like yours. Thank you so much for sharing with us.
Thank you for allowing yourself to be vulnerable in this way. You have your Mother's smile...I hope you will find a way to use it often, even when you don't want to, if for no other reason than to stay connected to her--you two are beautiful. And thank you for sharing your recipes, humor and sadness...letting others carry your baggage for a bit can really help and I hope that you will find healing and comfort as your grief transitions and eventually live in only a nook of who you are; I lost my Dad to cancer in 1992 so I get some of what you are feeling. I will send you comfort, energy and clarity...may your heart find peace and be able to accept all the love being sent your way.
So sad for you after reading today's blog. My condolences for the loss of your Mom. I guess she and I would be about the same age as I check out the pictures and the clothes. She will always be in your heart and your soul will see her again some day.
I completely feel you on so many things that you've written about. Having depression is a crap shoot at best, one moment you're fine and then the next you have no idea what or why it's happening. Adding in the loss of your Mother, it's no wonder you feel lost on so many days. I know that it's hard to be gentle with yourself, but you are going to be okay, you ARE okay. It may not get easier with time, but you'll figure out a new 'normal' for yourself that works for you.
P.S. I've also adopted a dog that was rescued from a hoarder. He is the most frustrating and confused and lovable dog that I've ever had, and that can all be with in a few minutes! Over the last three years it's been two steps forward, four steps back, but we're making progress. My other dog frequently gives me that look which says, 'You brought him home. I had nothing to do with it.' 🙂
I guess I am not alone. My wonderful, handsome, silly, and kind dad died unexpectedly on January 12th. It is so hard to imagine never getting to talk to him again, so I have to push those ideas out of my head. I can’t bear to think of summertime coming and not going to the pool with him or getting a tour of his vegetable garden. He too ended every phone conversation with I love you. Like your parents, mine were married a long time - 50 years this year. I know how important every picture, video or audio recording is now, so I hope you soon find the picture you are looking for.
On good days, I remember how blessed I was to have such a great Dad for as long as I did. I have suffered from some of the same things as you (anxiety and depression) and am currently unmedicated, but now with my dad gone, sometimes everything can feel like a struggle. I could totally relate to what you said about feeling overwhelmed even by simple, every day tasks. It helped to have someone validate how I have been feeling…I have tried explaining it to my husband and he really tries to be supportive, but I am not sure that he really ‘gets it’. So thank you for sharing what you have been going though.
Kristy, thank you for your honesty. I am sorry about the rough few months you've had. I am deeply sorry about the lose of your mom and your battle with depression. I have battled with depression since I wa a teenager, too. I get it. It's real and awful and makes any survivor a champion.
I, too, have been going through the darkest time of my life and I'm gearing up to writing about it on the blog. The courage you showed to share this helps give me the push to do the same. So thank you. Lots of love to you, Kristy!
p.s. I'll be in LA March 18-21. If you feel up for grabbing a bite or a drink, let me know! I'll text you closer to the trip.
May you be happy. With my love and best wishes.
Kathleen Henry @ Produce On Parade
Thank you for sharing your story, Kristy! I hope it helped you a little bit, and I know it helped several others feel not as isolated with regards to experiencing depression or just a general lust for life (often when there's no excuse). I feel the same way. You're not alone in your struggle, as I am sure you know. I'm so sorry to hear about your mother, that must have been incredibly difficult. I have to say, we rescued a new pup as well, and seeing him brighten the life of our aging husky brings a sweet smile to my face. He's also 1/4 his size, so it really makes me giggle. You'll make it through this!
Ana @ Ana's Rocket Ship
I'm glad that you've had some good moments in amongst everything else. I hope things get better soon! And VERY excited about your new book!
Kirsty - I recently bought your book, didn't know you had a blog - found that you did, and just read this post. Sometimes when we're vulnerable, even strangers can feel all connected together in this big, crazy, happy, sad, frustrating, scary, anxious web of life. Instead of packaging everything up with a lovely bow, like most of us have learned to do every day, you shared your human-ness and probably have made us all feel human, too. Thank you, and may God watch over you and help carry you through these most painful days and months.
Oh hun! What a rough trot. I truly hope things look up soon. Take the time you need and heal your soul. Robyn x
Thanks for sharing...what a brave beautiful soul you are! From the loss of your Mom to learning to handle depression with grace and compassion towards yourself! I battle anorexia which not only is life threatening but also comes with some wild depression swings at times so I feel ya girl...., patience not perfection, therapy, and support are vital. I will keep you in my prayers...sending you love, strength, and hugs! One thing Im learning is that honesty leads to healing and secrets keep you sick....props to you for being so real!
Kristy, I am so impressed with your ability to share with us. (Not just recipes!!!).
I know depression is a tough and unpredictable uninvited guest. I hope it leaves real soon. BEst of luck to you. I appreciate everything you offer to us.
Sweet Friend, what a moving post. I'm so sorry for the struggles you've had, for the struggles your mom had during her life, and for your very precious loss. The pictures you've shared of your mom are so beautiful. What a radiant spirit! And also, I must say, Amen to Broad City! ha ha I love that damned show SO MUCH. Hugs to you.
My dear Kristy, I'm so sorry for your recent loss and current struggles. And for as saddened as I am that you've been struggling so, I hope that you come out on the other side, when you're ready, glowing and surrounded by love. I'll be thinking of you in the meantime as you take your time and heal. Sending you much love and this recent smile-inducing zinger from Woodrow (an attempt at a "Why did the chicken cross the road" joke): "Why do you think the goat crossed over the street? So that he could eat the cauliflower in his nose!"
Oh, honey. I'm so very sorry for your loss. Grief is such an unpredictable emotion, but it sounds like you are handling it in the best way possible. Recognizing it for what it is, taking time to recognize and care for your own needs, and most importantly - remembering the wonderful times with your mother and holding them close to your heart. I know that I'm a complete stranger, but I'm very proud of you. You will be in our thoughts and prayers.
i suffer from an "invisible" illness as well, though mine is an autoimmune disease. My normal will never be the same as a healthy person's. Most of the time I'm okay with that. I'm trying to adopt the mindset that all days are good days - some good days are also very hard. I'm also trying to cut myself a break when days are hard - and this is the most difficult for me. But you know what? Sometimes just getting out of bed, showering, and moving to the couch is a victory. I'd put my sheer effort on those days against anyone else's "normal" day. And that's okay - because it's my normal. As a kid, my grandmother used to say, "dare to be different. Normal is boring." I'm trying to embrace that sentiment.
Sending hugs and support your way. Your mom must be so proud of you!
I am so honored that my name is attached to this post as a winner of your contest! This isn't about me at all, and I'm in awe of your ability to discuss your struggles so eloquently. I can relate so much to your words on depression, but I don't have the words to explain my own journey yet. Thank you for being willing to be so open about these things and inspiring me in my search for the right words. I'm so sorry for your loss, and you will be in my thoughts and prayers!
She is within you, truly, and quite literally. Imagine if one lost oneself, the only one they truly ever knew-this is a mystery only a child and a parent know. Her love remains catapulting. This is not the end.
Kristy, thank you for sharing your sad and joyful moments with us. Sending you a supply of virtual hugs for whenever you need a bit of a boost. 🙂
Your post is lovely and I especially enjoyed the notes at the end.
I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my mom a few weeks ago. She was 62. I had been caring for her a lot in the last 14 years since I lost my dad at 53. My mom and I never had an easy relationship but she was part of my kids, husband and my everyday life and in the end, I'm glad we were.
Deborah @ The Harvest Kitchen
As I was looking through your delicious recipes and lovely photos today, I landed on this post. It hit home. My dad passed away February 22 of this year. I'm still raw. Some days better than others, but of course, none feel "normal". I'm so sorry for the loss of your mom and your uncle. Thank you for sharing this!. I haven't worked up the courage to do so yet. Oh, and I also have a rescue. She was born blind. I got her when she was 9 months old (she's now 3). She's as sweet as can be!
I'm so sorry to hear about your dad, Deborah. I wish you much love as you work through your grief.