Harsh Reality

As soon as you begin school, the famous question that gets asked is,

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

I remember hearing this question a thousand times throughout my childhood. Teachers and parents would ask, and we were all expected to somehow know what we wanted to spend the rest of our lives doing at such a tender age. As a kid, big decisions like that are fleeting. One day I would want to be a doctor, another day I would want to be a lawyer, some days I felt like I wanted to be a psychologist, and once I even wanted to be the first female president of the United States. You can say I was pretty ambitious!

I always had a knack for writing but felt like my occupational dream needed to be more grandeur. I had an innate ability to connect with others and was empathetic to the core, which lead me to the decision to pursue law. Initially, I wanted to be an immigration lawyer because my grandparents and relatives lived overseas and I felt the pain and struggles of so many other children, who at such a young age like myself, had to grow up living worlds away from the people who meant the most to them.

In high school, college, and university, I kept my major as English but had the goal of taking the LSAT after graduation and attending law school. I remember my parents paying ridiculous amounts of money for those LSAT courses, in hopes that I would fulfill my dream and be a successful member of society. After taking a few of the full-length practice tests in my LSAT class, I knew I was in for trouble when I saw there were logical reasoning sections, which, in other words, meant math and logic games, also known as the dreaded word problems we all hated in school. Math was the only subject that I really ever struggled with my entire educational life. I always ended up excelling and receiving A’s but mostly because my dad had a degree in math and was a genius. Back home, he learned algebra ridiculously early in elementary school.

I struggled with the logic games like crazy. I surrounded myself with a wealth of resources, such as the Logic Games Bible, but no matter how hard I studied, my mind simply couldn’t wrap around and grasp the fundamental concepts of the logic games. The first time I took the LSAT, my score wasn’t nearly high enough to get into the schools I had my heart set on. The second time, my score had improved but was still getting me no closer to the schools I wanted to get accepted to. Despite that, I still held on to a tiny shred of hope. I went to the primary school I had my eyes on and met with the Dean of Admissions. I told him about my interest in the school but admitted that my score was lower than the average student’s. I still remember how unsympathetic he was. Sometimes, you hear remarkable stories about how someone in a position of power took a huge leap of faith because they saw potential in that individual but that didn’t happen here. Stories like that are so foreign to me because I feel like I have worked tooth and nail for every accomplishment I’ve achieved in my life. I was never thrown any miracles. My successes in life have been strung together with good old-fashioned hard work and perseverance.

The Dean simply looked at me and said in a very straight-forward manner that I basically didn’t have a chance. And, that was that. My childhood dream was crushed, my parents’ money was wasted, my efforts and their efforts were all fruitless. And, for what? Because I couldn’t pass the math section of the LSAT to get into the school I wanted? It seemed absurd. I was a smart student but according to law school’s standards, apparently not smart enough. I could have persevered, not given up on my dream, went to some out of state law school that would accept my score (and, there were a few that would) but I wasn’t willing to put any more sweat, blood, and tears into this than I already had, which lead me to believe that I never truly wanted to be a lawyer bad enough or else I wouldn’t have given up my so-called, “dream” without a fight.

It took years to come to this last conclusion and be at peace with my decision to not pursue law school. For years, I felt the guilt of failing — a feeling that really had been very unfamiliar to me up until that point. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, as cliche as that sounds. Now, although I am not a lawyer, I work at one of the top companies in America and have a work-home life balance, which is so important. I think to myself that God had something better in mind for me, that it wasn’t written in the stars for me to be a lawyer because I may have spent even more of an investment into the field, only to end up hating it. My own LSAT teacher became a lawyer, passing the LSAT with a nearly perfect score, but ended up retiring after a few years and starting a music band. When I found that out, it lessened the sting. Let’s not forget about John Grisham who quit his law profession to be a writer.

There are three points to this story:

  • Point #1: Life doesn’t always go as planned. You may have one plan for your life but God may have an entirely different one in mind for you.
  • Point #2: Life isn’t fair, but as the famous quote says, it’s still good.
  • Point #3: Everything happens for a reason.

I leave you with one of my favorite poems of all-time by an unknown confederate soldier. I hope it resonates with you as much as it has (and still does) for me.

Unanswered-prayer

Motherhood: What No One Tells You

I was reading an article about motherhood that really struck home. It feels like whenever someone announces the news that they’re pregnant, you hear the same sorts of advice: sleep when the baby sleeps; enjoy every second of your maternity leave because your life will never ever be the same, again; sleep in as much as possible because you’ll soon be waking up for middle of the night feedings; watch all your favorite shows while you can because once the baby arrives, then good luck trying to sit uninterrupted for more than a few seconds, and the list goes on. You also hear these idealized stories about breastfeeding, how it’s supposed to be such a beautiful, seamless experience, and how much more you’ll be bonding with your baby because of it. But, no one tells you about the real nitty-gritty stuff that seems to be taboo.

My baby was born full-term but was almost 2 weeks early, so he weighed a mere 5 pounds 6 oz. Due to his size, he wasn’t able to latch on. The hospital made me feel like getting him to latch was achievable if I kept trying. But, continuing to do so only led to more disappointment and failure. I met with lactation consultants, Googled like a madwoman, used the Nipple Shield and various other gadgets, but got no closer to where I started. That’s where the pump came in and was my savior because I learned that there was a such thing as being an Exclusive Pumper. I was talking to a lactation consultant on the Kaiser Breastfeeding Hotline when she recommended I check out an EP group on Facebook called Exclusively Pumping Moms. The name is pretty self-explanatory: you’re still breastfeeding but it’s like drinking beer from a can, instead of straight from the tap.

And, so, my journey into the elusive exclusively pumping world began. During my time at home, I would pump 7-8 times a day, every 3 hours, and force myself to stay awake long enough to do my dreaded middle of the night pumps. Let me tell you what no one tells you: it was brutal! Let me tell you what else no one else tells you: there were so many times I wanted to give up, to throw in the towel, to put my baby on formula and call it a day, but my will to keep going was stronger than my sleep-deprived nights that were filled with watching pre-recorded shows on TV to help keep me awake, as the sound of the pump robotically played in the background. I read a quote once that has really stuck with me: the price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it. And, that part of my life that would have been able to sleep peacefully at 9 p.m. when the rest of the family went down, that part of my life when I could go out freely, instead of living my life in 3 hour increments to come home and pump, that part of my life that would have been able to eat lunch with friends and have a social life once I went back to work, was exchanged for the gift of breast milk I was able to give and that I’m still able to give to my baby. Seeing him thrive and knowing that it’s because of the nutrition I’m providing him is an invaluable gift.

No one tells you that there will be some days when you break down and cry because you’re a new mom and have no idea why your baby is crying. No one tells you that no matter how much you love your baby that there will be moments you feel like walking away, locking yourself in a room, and screaming at the top of your lungs. And, please know that doing so doesn’t make you a bad mom; rather, it makes you normal.

But, let me tell you something very important: no matter what you go through for your children, please know that every bit of it, when all is said and done, is worth it (and, if you happen to have to throw in the towel, at times, for your sanity’s sake, please also know that that’s okay. We’re only human, despite the rest of the world thinking we are actually Superwoman.) You will be rewarded tenfold with smiles, hugs, and kisses galore. You will be rewarded with the intangible, which is more valuable than any material possession that you can ever receive. Motherhood is the hardest, yet the most selfless, rewarding journey you will ever embark on.

Buckle up and enjoy the bumpy ride.

Sweet Potato Hash & Saturday Morning Traditions

Saturday mornings, for me, have always been reminiscent of my childhood, where I would wake up, bleary-eyed, watch my favorite cartoons, and eagerly wait while my parents made us a hearty breakfast. It resulted in us all sitting at the table, enjoying the finished masterpiece together, and creating memories, while sounds of laughter swirled around the kitchen. Now that I have my own family, I like carrying on that same tradition and so, I’m constantly on the lookout for new recipes to try when my own creative spark doesn’t automatically go off. Last year, I came across a gem of a book called The Paleo Kitchen by Juli Bauer & George Bryant. There is a Sun-Dried Tomato Sweet Potato Hash recipe in there that I put a slight but simple twist on to make the most delicious breakfast that doesn’t take much time at all to whip up. Sweet potatoes on their own are already so tasty that you really don’t need to do much to make a dish involving them taste good.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato, diced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 eggs
  • 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a dash of basil, dried or fresh

Preparation:

Set your stove to medium heat and melt your coconut oil. Add your diced sweet potatoes and stir them around for a few minutes to get them nicely coated and sizzling in the coconut oil.

1

Cover the pan with a lid and cook for 5 minutes, then, remove the lid and continue cooking the sweet potatoes for another 10 minutes until they’re nicely browned on all sides. Once the sweet potatoes have browned, add your onions and keep cooking them until they turn translucent.

2

Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add four wells into the sweet potato and onion hash, and crack your eggs into the wells.

4

5

How long you cook your eggs will depend on the firmness at which you want them. I usually find that cooking them for a few minutes, so that they are not completely hard but slightly runny, is plenty to my liking.

Remove from heat. Garnish with basil and serve.

6

The combination of coconut oil, sweet potatoes, and eggs gives this dish an incredibly rich, satisfying, and warm taste. It is sure to leave a lasting impression if you decide to incorporate it into your own Saturday morning tradition.

New Name, Site Redesign, & A Little About Me

Sunshine

Hi, everyone!

In case you were wondering (or hadn’t already noticed), I wanted to give you a heads up that I’ve changed the name and address of my blog!  It is no longer Sara’s Eats but rather, as you can see, it is now Sunshine & Sapphires. I initially started this blog as a creative outlet to share my clean eating recipes, however, as time passed, I decided that I wanted to expand my blog to cover a broader range of topics, instead of such a narrow one. What lead to this decision? Allow me to start from the beginning …

One of my passions in life has always been writing. Ever since I was in elementary school, I was known as the little girl who would sit on the edge of the Bark Box with a blank notebook and pen in hand, creating make-believe stories. The world was truly my canvas, and the sky was the limit as far as my imagination was concerned. I filled notebook after notebook up, and would spend my leisure writing letters to my favorite authors, as well as sending them my manuscripts (all, of which, at that tender age kindly got rejected, and understandably so.) I remember spending much of my childhood at the public library in my hometown, which was surrounded by a beautiful pond with cool, glistening water and a million ducks that would be waddling around. At the time, that library seemed enormous to me, and I felt like a grain of sand that occupies just one tiny fragment of a warm, sandy beach, and a must bigger picture.

As I grew older, my passion for writing stayed with me. In high school and through the duration of college, I majored in English, graduating from a university with my degree in English. However, as I became an adult and immersed myself into a world of work and responsibility, my passion, inevitably, seemed to take the back burner. But, I’m a firm believer that our hearts ultimately lead us back to whatever we are inherently passionate about and so, here I am, sharing my story with each of you.

I am a wife to my wonderful husband that I’ve known for nearly a decade, a mother to my beautiful baby boy who is my heart, a daughter to my loving and supportive parents, a friend to many, and last but definitely not least, I am a writer. My new blog will be about a variety of topics, instead of primarily food. Some days I will share recipes with you, other days I may share weight loss and fitness tips, or just musings about my every day life. Something cool I really want to do with my blog, once I receive enough responses to get that going, is to have a weekly, “Dear Sara” column, so to speak. I’ve toyed with this idea for years. It would be like a Dear Abby scenario, where my readers can e-mail me anything that is on their minds: relationship advice, dating questions, you name it! The e-mails will be featured on my website but it goes without saying that the identity of the readers writing in to me will be kept anonymous. If you would like to take part in my, “Dear Sara” column, you can send me an e-mail at sunshineandsapphires@gmail.com

I want to personally thank all of my followers for staying loyal and continuing to follow my blog, even though my updates have been so infrequent these past few years. I hope to change the frequency of my posts, especially now that I can really express my creativity on such a wider scale.

I look forward to providing you with fresh, exciting content for 2015!