There’s something to be said about the turbulent teenage years stereotype. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going out for keggers or partying till dawn or sneaking out of my window at 2am to meet my nonexistent punk boyfriend, but everyone around me is having some form of existential crisis or another, or so it seems lately. We’re dropping like flies, quashed by the weight of the long sticky clot between adulthood and childhood. There’s no such thing as teenagehood, did you realise? Because we’re not an official hood. We’re this awkward squiggly poochy segment squashed between two slices of legitimacy, wrapped up like a burrito on the couch and hissing at sunlight or anyone who comes close and waiting for the day of self actualisation. Or maybe that’s just me.
Whether it’s about what we do–sports, writing, studying, living–or how we feel (emotions! feelings! so messy, so awful), I think it’s the time of the year for people–my age at least–to start finding conflicts popping up left right centre like some wretched rash. Maybe it’s because school is out of the way and now we have time to worry about the things that needed worrying, but were eclipsed by bigger worries that could possibly affect our futures and potentially increase the worry quota like GPAs and grades and all the pleasantries that come along with package that is academia. Now we’re left with more good free time, which is blessed, but also the acquiring snowball of little doubts and questions that gathered and grew like a pufferfish. Perhaps that’s not the best analogy. But also perhaps because this might be a preview to post-education life–no school system, no homework, just you and your abilities and whatever you have that can help you survive in the massive pool of adulthood, be it cunning or hard work or talent.
Is that why we have this teenage year thingum stuck in the middle? Are we supposed to work things out now like some jigsaw puzzle so everything will perfectly fall into place once we step into the real world? Probably not. But it’s definitely meant to toughen us up or teach us something. I think this is a year of learning for me, at least. I was made to face a lot of things in the past few years, but I think they just mediated a quick, sudden, lurchy and rather nauseating rocket up from childhood–goodbye, farewell, so long to infancy–and this year has been finding my feet after the crash landing, once the wounds have scabbed over. Standing up shakily, digesting what’s around me, figuring out what and where am I. Figuring out where do I go next from here. And that’s why this year has been one of the most confusing so far, but I’ve learnt quite a bit.
Which brings us to Bad Days! I’ve learnt the importance of asking people if they’re alright–one of the key points this year. Everyone has bad days, no one’s life is a massive ball of sunshine and daisies and rainbow farting unicorns and glitter and confetti and linking arms singing ‘La Vie en Rose’. Storm clouds come, sometimes they stay and no matter how long or how hard you swat they just hover over you like oppressing, obstinate omens of gloom and doom. With both teenage turbulence and adult awfulness and perhaps childhood craziness alike we will all have bad days, and it’s important to show your concern for those around you who are fighting battles of their own that may be different to ours, but still a battle. Take care; I use that to sign off chats with people, to accompany a comforting (or I hope) pat on the shoulder as I go. It’s a tidy package that’s quite able to sum up your, well, care and concern for the person in question. Take care. Take your showers, don’t bash yourself up, get in your requisite amount of happiness and smiles and hee-hees and ha-has. But the art of Taking Care is a tricky one that’s as hard to get right as a complicated ballet solo in high-heel pointe shoes (if such things exist, but just for sake of the metaphor) and about zero motor skills. I haven’t got it pat down, that’s for sure.
Take yesterday. I had pancakes for breakfast, but that didn’t save the day. Sometimes you can feel the miasma of dread and “Oh no” creeping up on you like the slow scuttle of black rim across the moon during an eclipse. I felt it, and tried to do the usual prevention measures–my burning-sage-to-ward-off-evil equivalent–I made my bed with vigor and threw open the windows, washed everyone’s dishes with vengeance, tied my hair up into the highest ponytail I could that hurt my scalp and splashed water on my face. But nope–I was reduced, like most bad days, to a melting mess on the couch drowsily scrolling through Tumblr and Youtube and feeling like absolute crap due to a very confusing mix of emotions and thoughts crashing over into one another like a cartoonish pile of clowns. Throw in a few coincidentally bad things that happened and you have your perfect steaming pile of turd that comes with a side serving of loud self loathing and general disgust and aggressive apathy.
Sometimes you can’t do much about that but just grit your teeth and wait for the day to pass. Maybe have a square of chocolate to help tide you over. But the next day will almost always bring a better start, and I return back to the usual base of low level self disdain instead of full blown gross and internal bashing-up.
I used to think that, to feel better, one had to reach this sort of Enlightened Stage of things through stuff like Yoga For Peace With Your Inner Self and like going for a Run or Drinking Tea While Meditating. And while I firmly believe in the importance of health I realise that it’s not about trying to be a Successful Holistic Human Being that will bring joy to the world, or trying to emulate a paradigm of human perfection. It, I find, just means that: on the days that are hardest, on the days where you hate yourself most, on the days where you feel like you’re wading through a knee-high sludge of black gritty poop, you still manage–deep inside–to dig up some semblance of kindness, a little neutrality and acceptance, and hold that to yourself. Yourself, who is a person at that particular bad time that you don’t really like. And from there, you take baby steps; anything that can break what will inevitably become a vicious cycle of hate and hate and self loathing and self pity and whining and moaning and low, low self esteem. Take charge, take the wheel even though you feel like you’re clawing through clotted air, and just stop. Don’t just let things lie and continue melting into your couch. Do a few things that you know through common sense and logic will make things a little better–brewing a hot cup of something comforting, putting your work aside for the day, going out for a walk, taking a square of chocolate. It’s the little things that count.
So, that was my day yesterday. I couldn’t do much to change the situation, but I did what I could and hey–that’s alright. No one’s perfect. And this morning, at the start of what has already became a much better day, I made this apple pie baked oatmeal. Simple, comforting, warming. Ideal to make myself feel comfortable, be kind to myself through nourishment, and enjoy the new start we are blessed to have every 24 hours. It takes no time to put together as most of my breakfasts do, and is full of rich warm nutty fragrant spice like cinnamon and nutmeg combined with a comforting caramel golden sweetness and creaminess from mashed banana and coconut sugar, a luxuriant butteriness from just the smallest amount of coconut oil, a slight floral musk from vanilla bean paste and–paramount to anything named, well, apple pie–chunks of juicy, soft roasted apple with just the right amount of bite–straddling crunchy and mushy perfectly with a tenderness that releases the flavor that comes from gentle oven heat that radiates through the baked oatmeal and reaches every chunk nestled softly in the muffin like batter.
apple pie baked oatmeal
You will need:
-1/2 cup rolled oats
-1 tbs coconut flour
-1/2 tbs maca (optional) (I use OrganicBurst Maca)
-1/2 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp baking soda
-cinnamon and nutmeg, to taste
-1 tbs coconut sugar
-1 large ripe banana
-1/2 tsp good quality vanilla bean paste (or extract if that’s what you have on hand)
-1/4 cup Greek yogurt/coconut cream or dairy free yogurt if you’re dairy free
-5 tbs plant based milk of choice
-1 tsp coconut oil, softened (optional but recommended)
-1/2 to 3/4 of an apple, chopped into chunks
-A handful of chopped walnuts, if you wish
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. In a bowl, mash the banana and add the Greek yogurt, plant based milk, coconut oil and vanilla bean paste. Add all the dry ingredients on top and mix to combine, adding a little more plant based milk if needed till a muffin-type batter consistency is reached. Add in your chopped apple and walnuts if desired, stir in and pour into an oven safe dish. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown and set on top and let cool for at least 5 minutes before consuming.