L-I-V-I-N-G with Seasonal Affective Disorder. In Maine.


LOOK HOW FUN!!!! Winter is JUST THE BEES KNEES, RIGHT!!!!??? Uh, no. Actually, I have a long history of winter blues that subjects those around me to endless complaining about feeling cold, and not wanting to do anything except snuggle under a blanket on the couch. This year my ‘winter blues’ seemed worse than usual (…..perhaps there is a connection to my father dying the weekend before Christmas… just a theory 😉 )
So I took a quiz. And it said I had Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). But then I noticed the quiz was on a ‘phototherapy light’ website, so I figured they probably diagnose everyone with SAD to sell more lights! So I searched for more appropriate diagnostic tools and found another, more lengthy, test from a more legitimate source. And it said I had Seasonal Affective Disorder. To which I thought, “Meh, it probably says everyone has everything.” So I took a test for depression, and then one for anxiety. It said, “No ma’am. No depression or anxiety in that little brain of yours. Ya just got the ole SAD.”
So what are the “textbook” treatments?
Drugs: No thank you. And thankfully, my home remedies have been working so I don’t even need to consider that route!
Exposure to sunlight: CHECK!! Even though they are INSULATING and keep the rooms warmer, we decided natural sunlight was worth the little extra we may pay for heat this year.
Light therapy: Open to it if needed, but I think I’m good!
Psychotherapy: All set thanx.
My treatment regime prescribed by myself, and Google…
After lots of reading and, previously learned knowledge having been in the mental health field for over 20 years now, I know the importance of exercise to mental health. I also know how few people actually follow through with this, so it’s important to me that I practice what I preach. So I exercise almost every day.
Several articles discuss the importance of engaging in activities, particularly winter activities, to find enjoyment during winter months. So, I stopped saying (aka whining) “No… it’s too cold and yucky” when Lonnie says, “Hey, wanna go _______?” We started Friday night board games, a new tradition I am LOVING!!!! I have PLANS to see Black Panther Friday night with friends and I WILL GO EVEN IF IT’S COLD OUT!! (I said it here so now I have to!)
  • I’ve hiked!
  • I’ve snow-shoed!
  • I’ve cross country skied (for about 6 feet)!
  • I’ve walked the dogs!
  • I’ve shoveled!
  • I’ve started a gratefulness/21 Days of Happiness journal
  • I’ve stopped listening to news all day
  • I’ve STARTED listening to Oprah’s Soulful Conversations instead of news! (Amazingly inspiring and thought provoking!)
  • I’m watching what I eat and drink and even doing a Whole30 (or 20) (maybe 8) (I’m on day 8 😉 )

We (speaking of “we,” having a super-supportive partner who isn’t afraid to tell you when you need to get your shit together and your ass off the couch doesn’t hurt!) are in full-on SAD battle mode and it’s WORKING!!! I feel great, and when I don’t, I recognize it, and FREAKING DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT— SEE ABOVE!!

::::Drug commercial tagline alert::::I may have SAD, but it doesn’t have ME! LOL Had to.

I like big spicy butts aka How to make Pork Carnitas

Caution: THIS RECIPE IS A PAIN-IN-THE-ASS. If you don’t actually enjoy cooking and spending time in the kitchen, you will hate this unless you can get someone else to make it for you.

We became addicted to carnitas in Mexico, and waiting for a year between eating it is not an option. Hell… we barely make it a week before we make it again. It’s even whole30 friendly only by using riced n’ spiced cauliflower instead of my usual rice bowl. Or a lettuce wrap instead of a tortilla.


It HAS to be a butt or a shoulder. Trust me. Sale prices have encouraged us to try every cut out there. Butt is my favorite. I like big butts and I can not lie.

Cut your butt into 2″ish chunks. Season with salt and pepper and brown em up REAL good. BROWN them up. not GREY them up.

If you are totes adorbs like Lonnie and I and are cooking as a couple, while one of you browns the meat, the other can make the sauce.

Into the blender goes:

Juice of 4 limes, 2 oranges, 1 lemon

1 onion

2T cumin

2T chili powder

1T Mexican oregano

1t (or more if you like it super spicy) cayenne

Note: Sometimes we use 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce instead of the cayenne, or we use rehydrated guajeo peppers, but we live in Maine and finding the dried peppers called for in so many recipes we want to cook has been next to impossible (Yes. I know we could just order some.)

Spread your browned meat into a 9×13 or roasting pan. Pour the sauce all over it and squish it all around. Cover and bake low n’ slow, about 3 hours at 250.

At this point, you have 2 options. 1. Uncover, turn the heat up a bit and cook it more to reduce the liquid or 2. (Which is what Lonnie always does) Transfer it into a REALLY BIG frying pan to cook down the liquid. Your goal here is to cook down the liquid enough to then brown/caramelize the meat so it gets some DELICIOUS CRISPY BITS! It’s nearly impossible to do this with all the meat at once –in our kitchen anyway, so we usually cook down the liquid all in one giant pan, and then as we serve, we crisp the meat up in a separate pan.

THE WORST PART IS OVER!!!  You now have several days worth of AMAZING carnitas to use in rice bowls, tortillas, with your eggs for breakfast… whatever your is your jam. You do you, man!

Lonnie’s jam: Corn tortillas, and garnished with red onions pickled in red wine vinegar, pineapple, radish, and cilantro (This is usually how carnitas are served in Mexico. He’s a purist)

My jam: Rice bowl (or currently– a riced, seasoned (onion powder, salt, cayenne, cumin, chili powder) cauliflower bowl), topped with guacamole, radish, maybe some scallions. Sometimes (when I’m not whole30ing), I go with the typical, shredded cheese/sour cream/guac business/black beans and corn business that Chipotle has taught us to love.


Cross the Green Mountain

A few weeks ago my mother said, “You know, looking at you kid’s Facebooks and Instagrams and all that, no one would never even know your father was dying. It’s a little odd.” She’s right, it was a little odd, particularly for me, a lover of all things social media and self-proclaimed open book. But I didn’t know what to say, I am not a “thoughts and prayers needed” kind of girl, and I didn’t need thoughts or prayers. I was having more than enough thoughts for all of us! If my father and I had a relationship status on Facebook, it would be “it’s complicated.” Even last night when my brother called to let me know Dad had died, I had no idea how to feel and had to keep reminding myself of all the recent conversations with friends telling me there is no “right” way to react or feel, only “my way.”

Dad and Jessi, 1996

Right before my dad went into the hospital, we had an argument that began with my suggesting he move up here so my brother and I could help him out more than we could bein. I pissed him off, and he wrote me off. At his request, I never visited him in the hospital or the rehab facility where he lived his last couple weeks. While it hurt and pissed me off, I understand why he did it. My father was a stoic loner. Ending his life in need of 24/7 care was humiliating. He knew he was dying, he was scared, he was horribly ill and weak, and he just wasn’t able to add dealing with emotional drama to that list.  So it was easier to just ignore it…. me. And I completely understand this because he passed down to me that same ability to cut people off rather than allow them to cause me pain. That trait, given to me by my father, has been mostly blessing my entire life and I am thankful for the strength it has given me over the years.

Anger is so much easier to feel than sadness, forgiveness, or gratefulness. Given the way dad chose to end his life, compounded with the way he lived it, it would be So. Easy. to just say, “Fuck that guy!” I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t swirling around in my head a bit, but each, “fuck that guy,” is met with a good memory, a gratefulness for the traits that made me who I am today, and happiness for him that he no longer living in misery. He had a spot-on Donald Duck impression. He gave all his children passion for music and art. He loved me the best way he could, and in the best way I can, I love him right back.


I CAN quit you!

Last November I read a book called “Never Binge Again: Reprogram Yourself to Think Like a Permanently Thin Person” that turned out to be life-changing (however, not as immediately and dramatically as the author claims it to be). After reading the book I added some foods to my “never eat again” list. This went against the old, “everything in moderation,” idea we’ve always been taught.

I never ate Sour Patch Kids or Reduced Fat Cheezits again. Those 2 foods joined fountain diet Pepsi, and my ex-husband, in the Historical Museum of Bad Past Relationships.


HOWEVER…. for many months, I cheated. My Reduced Fat Cheezits became Goldfish crackers or Cheddar Combos and my Sour Patch Kids became Skittles. I quikly became so known for skittles, my coworkers brought me them as treats and came to expect and look forward to my “leftover (disgusting) greens.”  It slowly dawned on me that I had not “quit” anything. I still was meeting my emotional needs with a cheesy crunchy snack and a sweet-sour chewy snack. So I stopped. I did so by proclaiming to myself, my coworkers (to turn down their generous candy gifts), and my family that I no longer ate skittles. There is literally NO GOOD REASON for me to ever eat Skittles. None. Think of one. I dare you (and “Cuz they’re gud” isn’t a reason. I’m sure cocaine is gud too).

So now Skittles have a cute little shelf in the museum.

Guess what!? I’m FINE! I miss NONE of the things I decided to stop eating.

I did make a choice not put Goldfish in the museum because, well, I don’t want to and I am the boss of my own self. Also because I have a propensity for motion-sickness when traveling and Goldfish are my cure. Sometimes I AM eating them for an emotional reason, usually work busy busy busy-ness.  The key is to know what I am doing and why. I’m not just ‘cookie-monstering’ my way through life, gobbling up my emotions like snickerdoodles.

Results? YES! I ‘ve lot more than 20 pounds! BUT, I attribute the weight loss more to using Myfitnesspal (diet AND exercise). The REAL results of embracing the philosophy were changes in my MIND and ATTITUDE. I really thought I *NEEDED* those things. My life is better because I am not a slave to cravings. Being on the Myfitnesspal program has been a CINCH this time around, and I completely credit my embracing the spirit of that book for paving the way to have success this time around. My BODY is not the problem, it’s my MIND that needed tweaking.

If I can do it, YOU CAN DO IT. I have LITERALLY written blogs about my love of (and trying to quit ) fountain soda and how I felt like it helped identify me as a person LOL

If you are so inclined, you can read my blog post I wrote when I finished the book last year, by clicking here!

Back in the saddle again

Screenshot_20170925-141542Bro, I was KILLING it before my vacation with diet and exercise. I was exercising at least 5 days a week and had lost 10ish pounds using MyFitnesspal.  I had planned to keep on slaying the game while in Nashville. Hahahahaha, I love it when I am delusional! I DID exercise (once), and I did a LOT of walking, and a LOT of chores (since the whole point of the trip was to help my mom get some big stuff done around her house), but I also ate cupcakes, a giant bag of my beloved Trader Joes white cheddar corn puffs, ALL the saltines …and a whole lot more!

If I could marry a food.


It’s SO HARD to get back “on it” when you fall off. After several “tomorrows,” Lonnie and I committed to Monday. <—no air quotes because it actually happened! It feels great to be back in control of myself. I need to remember this feeling next time I want to go off the rails. There is that stupid saying, “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels,” and while this is just the shittiest, judgemental,  dumb phrase… there is a hint of truth hidden in there as none of the stuff I have OVEReaten since returning home from vacation (note the “since returning home— I regret NOTHING I did while I was away on vacation!! Not even stopping at Krispy Kreme en route to the waffle house, LOL) tasted as good as it feels to have control over my mind and body.

So HEY! If you want to be “ON IT” with me… hit me up on My Fitness Pal. My username is colleenj74…. (shit… I should probably change that “j” out… Can I even do that??). I even keep my food diary public on there for FULL TRANSPARENCY!! Fair warning: I eat a LOT of marshmallows that I roast over the stovetop 😉

P.S. You CAN change your username ONCE, so my name is now Colleend74!

Trip Reflections

Percy Priest Lake, Nashville (well technically this photo is Antioch)

See what I did there with the photo and title?   Fun fact: There is only ONE natural lake in all of Tennessee and all the rest, including this one,  are man-made! And either Mom or Chris told me that some of them were towns they just flooded over. So… like… are there houses down under the water?  That’s hella creepy.  Another fun fact: because I am me, thinking about houses under the water immediately led to thinking about mermaids and possible mermaid towns in the lakes of Tennessee.


This trip, like all of our trips, was part of our quest for future places to live when Sean graduates in 2020. This trip gave Nashville a very strong lead. We got to experience the “icky parts” of Nashville life, like heat/humidity and having your life revolve around traffic patterns and both felt that the benefits of having THINGS TO DO and PLACES TO EAT appear to outweigh the drawbacks. The cost-of-living seems about the same, possibly even a little less than here. It’s also nice to consider moving somewhere you already know people!


  • I will probably get into country music if I move to Nashville. Dancing and singing and listening to music downtown was so fun that I forgot to hate country music for a few hours.
  • I think I want to become a Zumba or Dance Fitness instructor but struggle with that whole, “Girrrrrl…. you fat. How you gonna show me how to exercise?” thing. (I know that seems random, but I was thinking about it a lot in Nashville because there are no many more opportunities to do stuff down there, and also because there is SO MUCH MORE good food to eat and try that exercise will be even more important than ever…lol!)
  • 20170922_180232Piper (my 1yo german shepherd) is the devil. We knew she was naughty untrained, but I think we were in ‘bad pet owner denial,’ until our friends dog-sat her for us and she was a holy terror. She is a high-energy, uncoordinated, moose-in-a-china-shop of a dog and even before our trip, we’ve had some hard discussions as a family about possibly finding her a more appropriate home. After the trip, we had to face the truth about our little angel giant monster. BUT, we are not giving up on her. We are buckling down and making a commitment to improving her behavior by improving OUR behavior! WE CAN DO THIS! (I hope).

That’s about all I’ve got for today. I think I want to be a better blogger and blog shorter and more often. I think. Maybe.




Fall Bucket List



We totally blew summer.  And not in a good way. Between the wet, chilly weather that seemed to intentionally time itself to occur on my weekends off, and general laziness, we just did not get in an approved amount of adventures. You know what? It wasn’t laziness, it was chaos. Our house was in disarray for months with Jessi and all her stuff preparing for her big move to Portland, Lonnie’s daily exhaustion doing the work of 10 men every day, grad school stuff, general life stuff. I just let it all clutter my mind and I think I felt like I couldn’t do fun stuff while so much needed to be done… yet I didn’t do the other stuff either, so ended up doing nothing. Super productive. Way to go, Colleen.


This is not to say we did NOTHING… I mean we camped one night, got some kayaking in, took at trip to Boston… ok now I sound stupid whining that we blew summer, but we really did.


Jessi is happily living in an apartment complex (that looks like it should be hosting Medieval Times dinner shows, lol) in South Portland. Sean is back to school. I am taking a break from grad school and attempting to transfer to UMaine. They hired another guy to take some of the load of Lonnie’s shoulders. My house is CLEAN. Gonna say that one more time. MY. HOUSE. IS. CLEAN!

IT’S ON LIKE DONKEY KONG!! We are going to make up for any HINT of a wasted summer with an EPIC AUTUMN OF AWESOMENESS!!!!!

We even got a head start this past weekend by checking “climb a mountain” off the fall bucket list. Sean really wants to climb Mt Katahdin, but after doing Mt Megunticook this weekend, we had to break it to him that we are NOT EVEN IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD of being in physical condition for Katahdin. Hopefully next year we can make it happen for him! I shouldn’t say “hopefully.” NEXT YEAR WE WILL MAKE IT HAPPEN FOR HIM!