Shasta’s Great Journey

Shasta at St. Benedict’s Lodge.  IT was her first time there.  I’ve been a visitor there numerous times over the last 17 years.  A great place to have a talk with God, to connect with nature, to feel part of the Universe!  Shasta loved it, just like I do!

This dog LOVES the beach. It was her first time…at least since I have had her.  She just played and played and played!

We finished up our nearly 700 mile journey at the Jedediah Smith State Park.  There is great majesty and awesomeness felt here.  At times when it was quite hush due to distance and quiet of others around, the organized chaos of nature is felt and it creates a lovely calm.  Everything is as it should be.

I am so blessed with a wonderful companion, an adventurous traveler who loves going in the truck.  Additionally she is quite the model!  I couldn’t have asked for a better travel mate!shasta sunset bay me

 

 

 

 

Day 6 and the worst is over I hope!

Today, I spent some time trying to piece together the last 60 days. It’s hard. There are lots of big spaces of time I don’t remember much. That scares me. It’s evident whatever happened freaked out my loved ones in a big way. I was on the phone saying so many things that were not at all what I was wanting to say but my brain just was somewhat frying. It just was what it was.

Which of course adds to my shame and guilt.  I have not had that occur since I quit gambling. Yes, I’ve lost control of my emotions before, but I have had no “out of body” experiences like I experienced this time. I sure am glad I write tho, because I can go back and somewhat piece together the build-up, the blow, the loss of time, and then I went straight into detox for the Xanax withdrawal. Not the smartest idea in the book. But hey….who said I was thinking in any congruent way during this time?

Although extraordinarily fatigued with pain increased,  I think I’m doing pretty well. I am stronger than I remember sometimes. While I was feeling so weak, I had some idea of what I wanted. I have been on a journey to get off these pills for nearly 2 years. I wanted to get my overall health and strength a little better because I knew I was getting to a place I was ready to deal with some more of my “stuff”.

I did know I was having some PTSD triggers There were some encounters with people I cared about where I felt under attack so decided to disengage from those relationships. That is not something I do lightly. Yet, in retrospect it showed I was getting stronger because I was able to say to myself, “this is not healthy for me”.

In late February or early March was one  occasions and I handled myself with composure (maybe showing a slight displeasure but that is all) and then returned the next day to discuss the situation and stated what behaviors I could handle. That is a HUGE thing for me.

As time passed and other situations occurred I knew I needed to do some digging to see why I so easily get triggered by certain personalities. To be frank, I believe it’s because of my mother and our relationship and her behaviors. There are certain behaviors in women I just cannot tolerate at all. It gets my ruff up so bad and I have to just clench my teeth. Pointing, especially if someone pokes my chest, intimidation posturing, badgering, and overly aggressive. I have a tolerance and then it just is gone. It was like I was doing okay, handling each situation the best I could while trying to be professional in my role as “property manager”, and then it was over the edge.

I had told a few folks about my encounters and how they were affecting me. I had thought I had stated I was getting very stressed and overwhelmed, but again, I believe others hear it as “whining”. It was in late March that I picked up paperwork to get back into counseling. I didn’t get it turned in until mid-April after recovering from the flu. I didn’t get back in until  about the end of June for intake. Back in late March I knew I was over-stressed and had taken on more than I could handle.

In my perception a great deal of the stress came because what I perceived as agreed conversations on what was going on with the property and tenants wasn’t happening. I also had a situation with a friend and it was just the last straw.  I was so overwhelmed trying to get this property ready for renters. I had to help pack up a house that was full of many collections. Tapes(VCR and Cassette), books and mountains of electronics. The entire second story was just storage! I also had to get ready for an Estate Sale. I had never done one before and what a TON of work that is. I also had to help Mr. Chicago’s brother find an apartment and then I had to help him figure out how to make a home for himself in his new place. January was exhausting.

Then in February I was still doing okay after taking a little break, but that is when some of the encounters with PTSD triggers really started. After the first one I was shook up and tearful for a couple days. Then I tried to rectify things in an adult manner and carried on. Then there was another encounter in March. Again, I held my tongue, waited a day or two and then tried to rectify it. I also was telling my family and loved ones about the stress this was bringing me. Yet, no one is around me to actually see what those affects looked like. Often when you have PTSD triggers in my mind I feel like I sound like I am “complaining”. But what I’m trying to convey is I am getting over-stressed and I can’t make prudent choices and I need some help.

I had my trip to Chicago in late March and then came home and landed in the hospital for 4 days with the flu and pneumonia and when I came home and got well enough I had to stretch myself again. I was interviewing potential land renters. I had to run ads and make phone calls and then talk with these people at length regarding their needs and what we could provide for them. I am not a good salesperson. It makes me very uncomfortable, so I was stressing about that. More stress. I am feeling like I am falling behind here. There is so much work to be done and I am coming home after a nearly 2 week absence and it’s time to start the gardens and I still have things to haul to the dump and things to sale and continued encounters that were less than comfortable with some people.

Then came May. I did forget to mention that I had a very serious family issue that occurred in January that was an ongoing concern and stressor until early June. Those of you who follow my FB page remember, Mr. Chicago came out for my birthday in May. It was truly the BEST surprise I’ve ever had for my birthday. The BEST.   During the time he was here I was able to show him a little of what the issues were but by that point I was definitely at a point that any more encounters with triggers was going to set me off. But to him I’m sure they seemed small, each little instance.

That is not so for someone with PTSD. I’ve only had one occasion where it was a single incident that triggered me. Even at that time, I had been under a LOT of stress. Typically when I go into a meltdown mode (post gambling…completely different scenario) I have had a number of stressors on top of a number of triggers. I can only take so much. Which, is another reason I have been trying to get disability.

Having a disability like this doesn’t mean I can’t function or that I’m not smart or capable. It means I can’t take the daily struggles like a person who doesn’t have a  disability. Over the years I’ve tried to explain so much.  I can do a little physical and deal with the pain, but then my stress will get up and so I can’t deal with people or additional stress. Or, I can be medicated and take it gentle on my body and not do a bunch of hard things and my brain works. In fighting chronic pain as well as mental health issues life gets very overwhelming at times.

After Mr. Chicago went home, I thought we kind of had things under control. But that was not the case at all. There were still unresolved issues that came up and a number of incidents that made me uneasy around the 12th of June and that was when I started going over the edge.

After my first blow up, I had a few days where I just was telling everyone “I’m done”.   I am not able to make these decisions. I was trying so hard to take care of the area here and do a good job. I went up and down and up and down for a couple weeks and then settled down a bit. But by then, I was really struggling inside with a lot of things.

I didn’t feel safe anymore. Because I had “acted out” I was scared and embarrassed and pushed everyone away more. I didn’t want anyone to see me unhinged. The lonelier I got and the more I tried to figure out what I could have done different I just got more and more distressed.

I tried to “pull it together”, but I had forgotten that back in May I had purposefully come to the point that I wasn’t gong to refill the Oxycodone anymore.  That had been my goal and I reached it and was doing okay. I didn’t take into account how that my affect my mental health when I was already under stress. I continued to rage and then cry and then rage and then cry. I’ve said “I’m sorry” so many times in the last 2 months and then gone and done the same exact thing.

That is what happens when you have a PTSD breakdown. You feel okay for a few minutes and think you are okay to be around others and then Every Little Thing bugs the hell out of you. Drivers that are speeding and reckless caused me to be the same…trying to chase them down to tell them what crazy drivers they are. Ha ha ha….and who was the undone woman chasing them? Yes…that was me! Hence the limited driving these days.

So June ended and July rode in and yet another big stressor met me on the 5th. Something that made me think of bad things from long ago. I tried to explain to the other my feelings but was met with resistance. This made me feel even more unworthy and increased my angst.

So on 7/12 I had ran out of Xanax and decided not to go to town to pick up my prescription the next day. I had made a choice. Not wise, with my thinking at the time, but it was just me here and I was going for it. The first night I found out some information that truly just made my head burst. My head has been racing and my heart has been racing and I became obsessed with this information and it was rough that first day or two. I was not only going through Detox and PAWS, but I was in the midst of a mental health breakdown and kept getting news that left me feeling so alone and so WRONG for everything. Lots of thoughts of “why am I here?”.

That’s the mindset of a PTSD person. When I am in a PTSD head, I am in total fight/flight mode. I feel horrible. I think I am the worst person in the world. I want no one to see me. I don’t behave in ways that are typical for me. I get quite mean (to push people away) I’ve been told. I typically am NOT mean! I am a lover and a giver and a smiler. But under duress from a PTSD flare I can dish out some verbal bashing and be quite harsh.

I hate that. Which is a big reason for going back to counseling. I know I still have learning to do. I am hoping by completing my detoxification off the narcotics and benzodiazapines my head will be clearer for doing the work I have in front of me.

I know nothing about my future right now. Neither do you…if truth be told. I remember my counselor telling me that I learned early in life, it can all change overnight. In the meantime I am hunkering down and just trying to take care of myself. I deserve it. So do those who love me. I despise scaring them so. Evidently, as I was recently reminded, it’s been going on for some time.   When I get to my lowest I have very pronounced suicidal ideation. I forget about it for the most part when I’m well. I know how that feels as my mother suffered with the same. It is very hard for those around a person feeling like this.

Today has been the clearest my mind has been in a very long time. A very very long time. Even with the fatigue of not sleeping the last two nights (going on being awake for about 58 hours now) my brain is clear. I truly am grateful for being able to finally get off all that.

The cannabis is working. The dosing is not exact, yet. Just like me. I’m working on it. Thanks God for a gentler alternative that comes form the earth!

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Day 5 – I’m gonna live!

 

I do not think all medications are bad. There are situations where pharmacological medications are curative or the benefits outweigh the potential risks or side effects. At this time in my life, having been on a variety of pharmacological medications with less than optimal results, as evidenced by my struggles (breakdown) the last month, I am wanting to go a more holistic way. It started with medical cannabis and I now am more interested in what nature has to offer.

One of the main reasons for doing gardening and animal care when I am in such a challenging financial and physical and emotional situation is they give me purpose on days I struggle. I am so grateful that I started that.  Putting in a garden and attracting butterflies and hummingbirds gives me something pretty to watch and look for. Being out in nature and getting a little exercise is one of the BEST medicines there is. On many days when I am in pain or just overwhelmed, having those things I MUST get up for …makes me still have a life. Hey Sigmund has done a nice outline here of a more holistic approach for mental health strategies.

http://www.heysigmund.com/the-non-medication-ways-to-deal-with-depression-that-are-as-effective-as-medication/

I started off using the medical cannabis (MMJ) mostly for pain. I was on fairly high doses of Oxycodone and it wasn’t working. At least not enough.  This contributed to my IBS for certain, causing severe constipation.  MMJ has been a wonderful option for getting off opiates. It also has improved my mood greatly, until I get into a panic situation or PTSD gets triggered. I still having to do some learning on that. I have a couple strains that I have been given or bought (thank you to the growers) and it works. But the medication I need now needs a special license to process and so I can’t get it as easily. Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) was the BEST cannabis medication I have had to date that helped me the most.  I was calm and pain was much better controlled than with the opiates.

To get the strains that I need for anxiety and PTSD challenges I have to now go the dispensary. In one week I went through $100 worth of RSO and other types of MMJ products in addition to my usual use of the tinctures and butter and flower I have already at home. I can’t afford that. I sure hope they don’t take out the OMMP because of recreational. This is my medication now.

I had it suggested to me to try some skullcap when my belly settles a bit more. It’s a nervine. Nervines are an classification of herbal remedies for mental health conditions that have evidence of high anxiety. I was also told a student of herbology that nervines such as Skullcap can actually help in the healing of my brain after long term use of various medications. Hearthsidehealing in Portland, OR presented this article on nervines written by Jon Keys.

http://www.hearthsidehealing.com/nervine-herbs-for-deep-relief-from-anxiety-and-stress/

While the last few days have been incredibly difficult emotionally, I have no desire to take those pills again. I do not crave them at all, which is a bit strange based on dealing with my gambling disorder and the drive I had for that. I feel that with the medications I was more dependent on them, whereas the gambling for me is a true addiction. But in all honesty, I really had no idea I had an emotional attachment to the medications. They were prescribed by my NP for my various ailments over the course of the last 5 years. Some of them I had been on for nearly 20 years off and on.  When one has a number of medications like that there is always concern about them being discontinued, or brands changing (can be very difficult for some), or your doctor saying after a number of years prescribing, “no more, we have to stop this”. Or there is confusion about getting it refilled. It is really a painful experience to be taking 60-90mg of oxycodone a day and then not have it for 36 hours! Very painful.

I think this is the 5th night since my last dose and while life isn’t bubblegum and rainbows, it’s better than it was 24 hours ago. I even ate! That is one of the big side effects with my withdrawal is NO appetite. Additionally, I think I have only had about 6-7 hours of sleep in the last 3 days. For tonight I’ve made myself a nice hot cup of cannabis tea. I feel very tired. But not as despondent  and sick as I was off and on the last week. Yay God!

Only two sleeps and I will see the counselor that I have seen before.  As well as my NP was to be putting in a referral to a psychiatrist for me.

I really appreciate those who are following. I hope you share this all over the place! I really want people to know what detox from a benzodiazapine after on and off use for 20 years looks like. I want people to know it’s possible to improve from a dependency, an addiction, or a number of mental health ailments by making just a few lifestyle changes. And help me remember that the only person I really need to take care is me. 🙂 Peace!

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**This is no way an endorsement for taking yourself off medications.  I have discussed this with my Nurse Practitoner and it has been a slow taper over 18 months.  One medication at a time.

 

 

There is LIGHT and HOPE!

If you have never experienced a depressive disorder, I would imagine you really believe a person can cheer themselves up and get over it by doing things such as “open the drapes”, or “go for a walk”, or “let go, let God”. I used to think that too. If someone was a sad sack I would tell them to get outside themselves and do something for someone else, or to get out in the sunshine (or even to do tanning in very moderate/light levels), Over the second half of my life I have found that if it feels dark internally, it doesn’t matter what you do, except that you do something. It’s when you do nothing that you are turning into the hole of darkness. Even if you still are struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel and it still seems completely dark and not worthwhile. Do something!!! I know from experience…you will eventually see a ray of light that will give you hope to keep going. But sometimes…you have to just keep moving in the dark, doing something, going completely on faith in the darkest of dark.

I am so grateful that I kept on sharing with my friends and a couple family members and my readers when I was struggling. I was doing something. I was reaching out and sharing and being present in the moment. With depression, sometimes that is so difficult.

I believe that most depression is brought about by things of the past (unless you live in a combat zone or 3rd world country and face starvation constantly). For some, a combat zone can look like the chaotic interactions of families, the fightingt that occurs in some relationships, or the dysfunction of many households. Sometimes those are battlefields of their own. If you live in that kind of constant state of anxiousness about what has happened in the past as well as being worried and struggling with what is in the moment, in my opinion, as well as the various definitions I have read, that would be labeled as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

Depression occurs frequently with PTSD. http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/tc/ptsd-and-depression-overview It is my experience that if one of them are triggered, then the other disorder also gets triggers. If I have a new traumatic event, or a flashback of a traumatic event combined with increase in daily stressors, then it is likely that depression will get triggered as well, The feelings of depression, that dark place, become an escape as well as a prison.

It is very possible to get stuck in depression. That is why and how suicide occurs. It becomes too unbearable to live another day or another moment in the darkness. Or, if you are trying to escape the ongoing trauma of living in a combat zone or under extreme stress, the darkness of depression can at times become a retreat from reality. There is a very fine line between the two. Escape and prison are but one step away from another.

Today, I am grateful that somehow, by God’s grace, I was able to not become consumed with the darkness and was able to hold on through that dark time until I finally saw and felt the light of God’s love and peace and assurance. It’s always just around the corner.

I think I was able to hold on due to the ties with my support group, my willingness to reach out, and my desire to always do The Next Right Thing in life.

If you are feeling that darkness of depression, or if you have PTSD and the depression is creeping in too, be sure to reach out. Help really is always there. And there is light, just around the bend!

Contact you physician, a mental health provider, a member of clergy, a friend, or a family member and tell them you are struggling and need some help. Let others’ into your life and know you are not alone. Depression doesn’t have to mean darkness for eternity.

Something new…for me…House sitting!

1:36 AM 5/16/2014 I am experiencing a FIRST! Those are always something worth mentioning as far as I am concerned. So much of life can often be very repetitive and become part of a routine. Right now my routine is all messed up. But, I am looking at all the good. I am house sitting for a friend I’ve known for about 2 1/2 years. This person has only known me in a state of not actively gambling. Yet, this person has heard my stories of lies and manipulations and embezzlement and all the things associated with my behaviors of compulsive gambling. I’ve been in this house a couple of times, yet I’ve never been here overnight.

This person told the woman I am providing my expertise to in organization and delegation (the woman where I live) that of all the people he knows I am the one he would trust with all he has. Which he has done. What an honor.

So, here I am in a wonderfully appointed nicely equipped state of the art home. This is something I have never experienced living in during my entire adult life. I have a car and two trucks at my disposal. I have a wonderful roof over my head. I have 2 bathrooms that have showers and tubs and toilet that flush and good lighting that are available for use 24/7. There is a gorgeous sink and a fridge/freezer/water/ice machine that is gorgeous. And a dishwasher that I can run quietly whenever I choose. I also can do laundry 24/7. If you are a large majority of the US, you think this is typical America. Even the ghetto apartments in inner cities have a majority of the amenities that I mentioned available if there is they funding for them. It is very nice and comfortable for certain.

I am enjoying having internet 24/7 where ever I choose to be in this house. I can be in bed, or on the couch or in the recliner of on the patio or at the kitchen table. All in this one place. I have done 2 loads of laundry with drying included in the 5 hours I’ve been here. I’ve also used the TV and Cable and Internet. Oh, and I stopped by a store and picked up a few things and then decided I wanted something for dinner and the store is only about 1/2 mile away and so I went and got myself a mini pizza (gluten free to boot). Yes, living in town and having ammenties is quite nice…..

Yet, I have not head the bird song or the frogs or the crickets. I have not smelled the dirt and the cedars and pines heated by the rays of the sun beating on the trees tops surrounding me. I haven’t been able to enjoy going to my own place and seeing my own things with all the wonderful background sounds.

I am grateful for this opportunity to enjoy a very different living environment. It affords me an opportunity to see how it is for mainstream America as well as an opportunity to gain income to provide for a need.

The amount of compensation I am receiving for this gig will pay for my nursing license renewal, the last one I will be afforded without some repeat education for the next 2 years. I am required to have a specific number of hours in 5 year period. I am still within those guidelines and so I can renew, after being compensated for house sitting in a very comfortable environs.

I also have another situation I am pursuing tomorrow morning. I am going to make a series of health related videos to market a First Aid Kit. 🙂 I will share a link when I have it. There will be 14 videos, each a short vignette of an emergent health care situation.

So, different environment being in someone else’s home, different routine (have to set an alarm to get up and drive myself to another town in the morning, 30 minutes commute. Different bed.

I am really tired and having a hard time settling in for the night. But…my energy and my attitude this week have been very up and I am grateful for every opportunity being put in my path. God is providing for each need…one at a time.

BTW….Shasta, my best friend ever, is with me and she is doing fine. She enjoys looking out the back window and watching the kids at the school grounds just across the way. She has done her necessary things going out in the front yard where there is grass, being allowed a small arena, yet her sniffer is on overdrive. She finds and spot and does her thing and then is off to sniffing again. The life of a dog is all about their front end (nose and mouth) and their back end (defecating and urinating). As long as she’s healthy and happy that is all I am concerned about.

I suppose it would be best if I would try to get a little sleep before my acting debut! I haven’t been in a “stage” presence since 2002 when I took a credit class titled “The Total Performer”. I really needed to boost my GPA and I figured this would be an easy A. I ended up working my rear off!!! The class required 6 hours of class time and about 20 hours of off class time. I did get the A tho!. That is a long time to have been away from the acting environment, yet I did love drama in HS. I also have applied to be in a car ad later in the month. I may have a new career. 🙂

Being flexible is affording me so many options. Options I may not have otherwise considered. God is providing for my needs and I am also finding entertainment and enjoyment from many of the venues I am pursuing. God is good, all the time.

A Superbowl that changed my life

It’s Superbowl Sunday!!!  Even if you aren’t a football fan it is likely that you are aware that it is Superbowl Sunday.  Except for two other Superbowl games  I have no recollection of anything about any professional football game I’ve ever seen.  The one other was in 2006 when the Seattle Seahawks were playing and lost due to some terrible calls.  That is my opinion anyhow.  I am not a big football fan yet I could tell that the ref’s in that game were doing some serious picking on the Hawks.  I couldn’t watch the last 5 minutes of the game.  It was disgusting.  I am certainly glad they won today’s game.  The 48th Superbowl played in New York was one they deserved to win.

The other Superbowl Sunday I recall is one that changed my life.  It was 20 years ago.  Superbowl XXVIII.  The Cowboys and the Bills.  I don’t recall where they played the game.  I know who played because I googled it.  I do remember where I was and who I was with and what I did to change the course of my life forever.

I was at the Newport Hilton on the Oregon Coast with my then husband, Mr. B.  We had decided to go over to the coast to enjoy our weekend and have a place to watch the game.  We had only been married for about 3 months so of course we were still very snuggly and cuddly and romantic. Mr. B. was a huge sports fan.  In fact, I sometimes think he would die if he didn’t have access to watch sports and keep up on his favorites.  So, a weekend at the coast at a nice hotel was a compromise of what I enjoyed and what he enjoyed.  And we both loved the beach which is why we decided to watch the Superbowl from there.

The bar had a few huge TV’s.  That was back when big screens were just starting to be made.  Technology has come a long way since then.  There was a lovely view of the beach.  They were packed and there was lots of food and everyone was having a good time.

Every so often my husband would go over to some machines and put some money in them.  I didn’t know what they were except I had seen them before and knew he sometimes put money in them and played a game.  I was feeling a big ignored, with both sports and now this machine and so I went over to ask him what it was about.   He then gave me $5 and said put it in and I’ll show you.

That was the first bet I made in a video poker machine.  I had never really gambled before that.  Maybe some penny ante poker, but nothing worth recalling and never on a machine or at a casino or anything like that. This was a whole new experience for me.  I can’t tell you if I won or lost.  I can’t tell you what game I played.  I can’t even tell you how it made me feel.  I just remember that is the first place I ever made a bet.

We enjoyed our weekend.  Like I said, I don’t remember much about the game because I was mostly there to spend time with my husband.  I know we stayed over another night and probably took our time driving home, stopping for lunch at one of our favorite places along the way.  But I can’t tell you for certain.

While I didn’t play a machine again for a few months, that one bet was the start of the change of my life.  You see, I became a compulsive gambler.  In less than a year from that Superbowl game my family was doing an intervention to get me into treatment.  I was lying and stealing money.  I was not being the person I used to be.  I was not there for my family.  I was not performing well at my job.  That was just the first year of my gambling.  I ended up battling my addiction for 16 years.

I am proud to say I am nearing my 4th year without making a bet.  But it being Superbowl Sunday and the year 2014, it hit me hard the memory of that game 20 years ago an how my life changed course.  I can’t help but wonder what would have been different if I had never made that first bet.  I had no idea at that time that anyone could get addicted to gambling.  I was very careful about addictions.  I was raised in a home with addiction.  Had I known…I may have done a few things different.  But I didn’t.  The price was very costly.

Not only did I lose thousands of dollars over the course of all those years, but I lost friends and family.  I lost respect of my peers.  I lost opportunities.  I lost moments that can never be made up.  I lost a part of me.  I lost more than can ever be imagined.

I can’t change what was done.  I can only go forward from here and hope that the lessons I’ve learned are directing me along the path God has set forth for me.  I took control of the reigns of my life that day that changed my life.  Today, I let God be in charge and I trust He will find a way to use all  those years for some good.  Maybe good for me, or maybe good for someone else.

Knowing what I know about compulsive gambling today, would I make the same decision?  NO WAY.  Gambling can ruin lives.  It is the addiction with the highest rate of suicide of any addictions.  It eats at your mind faster than your wallet.  No, if I knew then what I know now, I would not mindlessly put my money in a machine a place a bet.  Or, would I?  There is no way to tell now.  I just have to live in today.  And today was good, because I watched the big game (well, only the second half because I have the flu and slept through the first half) and I didn’t make a bet and I didn’t make any big decisions that were life changing.  I just watched the game.  And I will remember who played and who won!  I was present.  Thank you God…for the Present of today!

Pauline’s Oriental Green Beans

Yesterday I roasted a chicken and was going to take it as part of my Barter Basket to my physical therapist appointment.  My appointment was cancelled so it became part of our dinner at home.  I had seen this recipe for Forbidden rice and veggie stir-fry on one of the blogs I like to follow and decided that I would make it, with a few changes, for a side dish.  I left out the tofu because I know my guys would not even consider eating that.  They are meat and tater men!  Also, I didn’t have any of the Forbidden rice so I  used brown rice instead.  I felt bad about making changes on a first run through it but I was using what I had.  The final addition to my meal was Pauline’s Oriental Green Beans.

Pauline was a lovely woman I met and became friends with when I live in Washington.  I met her and her husband Chuck at the church I attended.  She was one of those ladies you can’t help but love.  A second grade teacher, petite, quiet spoken, and so loving all the time with a smile that made you want to smile back at her.  She served this green bean dish at a dinner party she had for my ex and myself and our pastor and his family.    I loved it.  When I asked her for the recipe, she gave it to me along with the short story of how she had come to learn to make them.  In a nutshell…she had been taught by her blind Asian lady friend that she had met from church.  And now, she was telling me how to make them.

It is a simple dish with a real punch of flavor.  It also adds a nice bit of color to a plate.    You start out by using about 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil.  Heat over med-high heat and throw in 4 or 5 cloves of garlic.  Cook the garlic until it is soft enough to smash into the oil.   Don’t worry if some of the garlic gets a little crispy…in my opinion those little crispy bits are delicious.

After the garlic is smashed up, throw in a pound of washed trimmed green beans and turn the heat down to medium.  Cook, stirring often, about 5-6 minutes.  Add 3 tablespoons reduced sodium soy-sauce and cook another 4-5 minutes with the lid on, stirring every minute or so.  When I have them available I will throw in a handful of slivered or sliced almonds.  I didn’t have them this time.

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I think it made for a pretty plate of food and everyone ate their fill.  The rice dish was quite yummy and I have lots of the peanut sauce left over so I need to figure out another use for it.  It was wonderful to make this and spend a few minutes remembering my dear friend.  She passed away in July of 2005 after a very short (only about a month) fight with pancreatic cancer.   I am grateful for the recipe…but more grateful for the memories of a fine woman who shared more than the recipe with me…she shared her heart and her love and most importantly, she shared her faith in God with me.  Thank you Pauline, for showing me God through your eyes.

Roasted chicken, Forbidden Rice Veggie Stir-fry and Pauline's Oriental Green Beans.

Roasted chicken, Forbidden Rice Veggie Stir-fry and Pauline’s Oriental Green Beans.