I don't know why exactly, but holidays are difficult for me. Perhaps it's because our culture imbues such days with heightened expectations that never quite get realized (at least, not for me). I also dislike how the world shuts down, including the gym, which is something of a safety net for me (i.e., "if no other exercise pans out, there's always the elliptical" kind of thinking). Of course, holidays are always paired with increased and sometimes very concentrated social events.
Normally, I don't do much for the Fourth. But earlier this week I received a text from a friend (the same friend, in fact, that I set aside exercise to see on Friday) inviting the Best Husband Ever and I to a pot luck picnic at a park in honor of the holiday. I responded with a "yes," and promptly began worrying -- Who will be there? What food will be there? Will I eat it? What food will I bring? What will I wear? Will anybody talk to me? You get the idea.
By the time yesterday afternoon rolled around, I was stressed and, as a result, cranky. I didn't want to go. I wanted to stay home where it was safe and I couldn't be ignored and I couldn't disappoint anyone else. But I had already baked rhubarb muffins in honor of the picnic's red, white, and blue theme (see below for the recipe), and I had told my friend that I would bring some hula hoops. The Best Husband Ever, I knew, hoped that I would go, although I'm sure he wasn't holding his breath.
Yesterday afternoon, I took a deep breath. I told the disordered, cowardly voice in my brain to shut up, please. I showered. I got dressed. I frowned at my reflection in the mirror and changed my outfit several times before finding a dress that felt comfortable physically and emotionally. I gathered my hoops, wrapped up the muffins, and got into the car, the Best Husband Ever waiting at the wheel.
All that to say -- I went to the picnic. I didn't want to in the hours shortly before going, but once I got to the park I was so glad that I had chosen to participate. I really enjoyed sitting with the small gathering of friendly people, some of whom I had not seen in years. My muffins were well-received, there was much smiling at my friends' baby, and there was even a little live worship guitar and -- gasp! -- hooping.
I don't know how to end this post. I wish I could say that now every social event I attend in the future will be a stress-free breeze, but that would be a lie. I do know, however, that now that I've started repairing friendships and pursuing relationships, overcoming my fears, that I will keep pressing on. It will be difficult, and probably painful, but it will also be worthwhile. Thank you sharing this journey with me, blog friends.
Rhubarb Pecan Muffins
1 cup almond flour*
1/2 tsp xanthan gum*
1 cup whole-wheat (whole-meal) flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup baking stevia (or plain white sugar if you don't have stevia)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 egg whites
2 T canola oil
2 T pumpkin
2 tsp grated orange peel
3/4 cup orange juice
1 1/4 cup finely chopped rhubarb
2 T chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 350* F. Line a muffin pan with paper or foil liners, or grease a muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir to mix evenly.
In a separate bowl, add the egg whites, canola oil, applesauce, orange peel and orange juice. Beat until smooth. Add to the flour mixture and blend just until moistened but still lumpy. Stir in the chopped rhubarb.
Spoon the batter into 12 muffin cups, filling each cup about 2/3 full. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of chopped pecans onto each muffin and bake until springy to the touch, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 12 muffins. Adapted from the Mayo Clinic's recipe.
*I used the almond flour and xanthan gum because I was out of all-purpose flour. Feel free to simply use 1 cup of white AP flour instead of the almond flour and xanthan gum. Or, to completely remove all wheat from this recipe, substitute the wheat flour for the same amount of almond flour and add another 1.5 teaspoons of xanthan gum.