Battle “Do-Nothingism” With A Stew And Feel Better

Do-Nothingism Stew (Lentil Stew)
In my fight against clutter, I’ve begun with my emotions. As I mentioned a couple of posts ago when I began my Clutter Kick Campaign, CLA (Clutterers Anonymous) asserts that there are three components to cluttering: physical, emotional, and spiritual.

Which brings me to last night. As you may know, I’ve been trying my darndest to make positive changes in my life. I’m trying to kick bad habits and replace them with good ones. But yesterday evening I was feeling particularly down. I was in a state where I was creeping closer and closer to tears, and really, really, really, wanted to lay on the couch and order take-out rather than cook dinner. I was dangerously close to wallowing in Do-Nothingism.

What is Do-Nothingism? It is the odious state in which you feel so bad you can’t bring yourself to enjoy or do anything – it is procrastination’s nefarious cousin. David D. Burns, M.D. wrote a very influential book that I’ve been reading this week, called Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. Dr. Burns and his colleague, Dr. Aaron T. Beck, are pioneers of the revolution in therapy that is Cognitive Behavior Therapy. They discovered, through much documented research, that there is an undeniable connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and that you can improve your mood by improving either your thoughts or your behaviors.

Dr. Burns has worked throughout his career with severely depressed patients who can’t even bring themselves to get out of bed. In his books, he demonstrates techniques for combating this severe form of doing nothing, which tends to lead you on a downward spiral of depression. He has proven that doing nearly anything at all will undoubtedly make you feel better than not!

So, I decided to take Dr. Burn’s advice and Do Something – Anything! I went to the store and bought a few ingredients to make a stew from The Eat-Clean Diet Recharged.

Simultaneously, I examined my thoughts:

“I hate cooking.”
“Cooking is hard.”
“Life is hard.”

While chopping the potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, and brussels sprouts, I marveled at how easy this was. If broken down into components, cooking is really just a series of very easy steps! Right? And, though I felt fatigued and wanted to curl up in the fetal position and eat ice cream, I couldn’t deny that the closer my stew came to being finished, the better I felt. I mean, I was still very, very tired, but now I had a delicious stew to nourish that tired body!!! Score!

In the end, I had one of the best stews I have ever made, which I will absolutely make again. In fact, I’m certain that I will make it often enough to do so without a recipe.

Now I do feel better than I would have if I’d done nothing. I feel pride that I served my husband and myself a delicious meal (and this on the night before he had to take his Step 3 Medical Licensing Exam).

And if you want to make this delicious stew, it is really easy:

  • I used four organic russet potatoes, three large organic carrots, one onion, three cloves of garlic, and eight brussels sprouts, all chopped. I sauteed these until they were tender while boiling a cup of French lentils in a separate pot.
  • Then I added a magical combination of spices:  1 teaspoon each of turmeric, cumin, ginger, and coriander, 1/2 teaspoon of allspice, and a dash of cayenne.
  • Once mixed in, I added four cups of low-sodium veggie broth, sea salt, and the lentils. I let it simmer until it tasted ready to eat!

So, the next time you are feeling like wallowing in do-nothingism, remember that actions can change both your thoughts and your feelings. I believe that this observation is so incredibly life-changing, that I made this handy little diagram for you to picture when you’re feeling down. Cheers!

CBT Diagram

Really the arrows should be pointing in both directions, but hey, I've never made a diagram on the computer before.

Doing New Things, Reluctantly


The Lilacs Bloom, The Garden Grows, I Find Joy in Doing Something New.

A view of our patio and my old puppy dog.

I grew up in Southern California in a single parent family and we did not have the time or the space to garden. My mom always kept our yard and house spruced with pretty potted flowers, but apart from the ubiquitous fruit trees, growing food was unheard of.

Several weeks ago, thanks to my husband’s adventurous fortitude, we planted some seeds and they continue to grow, some at lightning speeds, and some seemingly much slower than last year.

As my husband is the one working the long hours outside the home, watering all the little growing things has fallen to me.

I hate being out in the plain view of my neighbors, who might yell at me for not picking up dog poop in our shared front yard fast enough, but I’m enjoying the garden time in spite of myself.

I even find myself pulling weeds.

Heck, the Green Zebra, Purple Cherokees, and all number of others veggies aren’t the only things growing right now.

I’m growing too!

Heirloom tomato sprouts.

I’ve always joked that my inertia is at rest. I’m certainly not much of a doer.

(I have a problem with do-nothingism.)

If it weren’t for my husband, who knows how long it would take to discover my love of growing fruits and veggies?

He’s been asking me daily where I think we should put the fennel, or the radicchio, or the Japanese eggplants, and Armenian cucumbers, not to mention all the tomatoes – six varieties!

And every day, I answer, “I don’t know, babe.”

Because until today, when I suddenly found myself enjoying the watering and the weeding, I hadn’t realized how much gardening space we’ve lost to the path our neighbor is putting in.

I was a reluctant gardener, really not present or observant about what we were doing.

Heirloom tomato seedlings.

But, now I look forward to getting out there with Tim and squeezing all these little guys into our limited garden space.

Some will have to go in pots, I think.

I count myself lucky that I married such a patient and encouraging man. He doesn’t nag at me, but he gently urges me to help out with the gardening, and slowly, I become less afraid to do things I’ve never done before.

I cannot wait until the fresh veggies are coming out our ears.

And, as I often do, I’ll quote the little girl on the Shake’N Bake commercial, “And I helped!”

Veggie seedlings.

Another view of our patio.

View of our garden and new path.

Another view of our patio.

On Joy And Housewifery

I need a change.

Further reflections on the title of my blog.

Once you’ve been blogging for a good while, you can’t really change your blog’s name.
The current title just came to me one day when I was reflecting on how difficult it was for me to write on my original knitting blog, The Shaggy Dog Story. Once the name popped into my head, I couldn’t shake it. It gave me a sort of theme to focus my writing, but it was broader than knitting and would allow for me to write things I wasn’t sure belonged on a knitting blog.

I had at one time started a secret journal called Selective Blindness For Joy. I loved that title, but I was starting to outgrow its bleak message. “Selective Blindness For Joy” is what afflicts me during bouts of depression. It’s how I think I’ve lived a lot of my life, but as I found myself married and turning 30, that was beginning to change. My husband has taught me how to see joy in life and I guess I wanted to reflect that new outlook in the title of my blog.

So, not wanting to continue in the negative vein of Selective Blindness, I suddenly felt that I wanted my life to encompass joy. Along with that I had just learned that there was a name for the situation that I grew up in – hoarding. I now have misgivings about that unfortunate name, compulsive hoarding, but at the time, when my mom admitted to me that she was a hoarder, I finally felt that this vague dysfunction that had plagued me and made me feel different my whole life was more solidified. It was defined by boundaries. I’m not a defective person, I’m not permanently damaged and doomed to suffer depression, I’m just the product of a parent who is severely chronically disorganized.

But, why Housewife? Once I realized that I wanted to write about my struggle to become domestically successful given my upbringing, I couldn’t get the phrase Joyful Housewife out of my head. Housewife as a concept encompasses everything I’m passionate about in life good and bad. It isn’t that I fully support the use of the word to describe women, it’s that I am okay with my ambiguity about that word and all of the issues it conjures up. I’m obsessed with the search for what it means to be a self-actualized woman. I’m obsessed with the quest to balance work life, home life, and motherhood. Seeing the word housewife every time I write urges me to examine these feelings, questions, and issues.

I want to drop the word from the title of my blog daily, but what should I replace it with?

I’d kind of like to revert to Selective Blindness For Joy adding the tagline Domestic Bliss, Eventually.