Hot dogs and Quinoa: With a little help from my Friends!

Hello Friends. My fall semester at ASU starts up in a couple of short weeks. The summer is almost gone.

“Summer’s almost gone

Summer’s almost gone

Almost gone

Yeah, it’s almost gone

Where will we be

When the summer’s gone”

-The Doors

This is my 8th and final blog for the internship. I know it’s sad and I am going to miss my time with me&my wellness. I have come to enjoy writing and coming up with new recipes every week. Perhaps you have enjoyed the journey and the recipes too?

I set a goal for this internship to come up with 8 recipes and 8 corresponding blogs. I thought I could do that, plus my regular job, plus a class, plus my normal day-to-day in only 6 weeks. I successfully completed the class and met my required hours for the internship; however, I only did one post a week. At the end of my time, I was short of reaching my goal. I asked Anthony to stay on for a bit because I still had things I wanted to share. I needed a bit more time to reach my goal. Besides, I hadn’t had a chance to say goodbye. If you have followed along this far, you and I need a proper goodbye.

I’ve been thinking about this idea of setting a goal and failing to reach it. What does that feel like? Since I didn’t meet my deadline is that a failure? Maybe. It feels disappointing. I failed y’all. The words are uncomfortable. And then I am tempted to internalize it. The words change from “I failed” to “I am a failure.”

I know that’s not true. But, for a while, that’s how I felt. These kinds of thoughts can be paralyzing. They can take us to an awfully dark place. They can prevent us from trying new things. How can I try this? What if I fail? This is why it is important to allow ourselves to fail, to learn to be comfortable with failure.

How do we get comfortable with failure? I think first we need to accept that failure is a normal step in the learning process. One of the ways that we learn is by watching others. The problem with that is when we see someone else easily do a task, we believe the task is easy. When we attempt it and it proves to be difficult, we will (usually) fail. It doesn’t matter if it is yo-yo-ing, cooking, skateboarding, whatever the task, we have to learn how to do it. And failing is a part of learning.

This process is easier if we have a good support network. These are the people who are rooting for us. Friends, mentors, coaches, family, teachers, even picking up a book on the subject can help us as we shift thinking from “I am failing,” to “I am learning.” Someone who has been there can offer advice and these relationships help guide us through learning. If you are starting a 6-week health reboot, Anthony is in that support role. He is there to help guide you along the way.

Learning about plants helped me to get comfortable with failure. My first attempt at growing zucchini was a huge failure. I thought I had done all the steps correctly. I found a very sunny patch of land. I tilled the soil. I picked out 12 robust zucchini plants. I watered them every day. I put up fencing to keep the deer away from those babies.

They soon grew thick and beautiful vines that sprawled across the planting bed. They had huge leaves the size of dinner plates and little golden blossoms. I was already planning what to do with all the loads of zucchini I was bound to harvest.

And then it happened. The leaves furthest from the plant started to look yellow. I thought they weren’t getting enough water. So, I watered them twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. The yellowing continued on the end leaf and he started to curl. Then, the yellowing started on the next leaf. Perhaps the zucchini plants needed fertilizer?

I put down fertilizer and kept at it with the extra water. But every morning the leaves were still more yellow. One by one, they would turn yellow then curl up, until each leaf was brown and dead. I was distraught.

I had followed the directions. They had rich black soil. They had full sun. They had water and fertilizer. Why wasn’t this working? I spoke with one of my co-workers. She had been gardening for almost a decade and had grown up in a house with a garden. I told her about my plants and she immediately said, “You have squash bugs.”

“I have what?”

“Squash bugs. They are a beetle that lays its eggs in the squash vines at the base of the plant. When the eggs hatch, after your plant has beautiful long vines and glorious full leaves, the little larvae burrow through the vine cutting off the water supply.”

She explained that every single one of these plants, all 12 would produce no zucchini. The water source had been cut off by the larvae. She recommended planting rye when I plant my zucchini to deter the squash bugs in the future.

In the future? What? I didn’t want more of this. I was heartbroken. My first go at a vegetable garden was a complete failure. None of my little plants were going to make it. I done all that work. I spent that money and given to this attempt so much time. Now, I had nothing to show for it. What was the point if I was bad at it? It was easier to just give up now versus more heartbreak in the future.

I did give up on plants for that summer because I was still disappointed. But I had a support network that encouraged me to not give up, and I have come a long way since that first squash bug incident. The next spring, my co-worker convinced me to try again. She said plants die sometimes. It is part of gardening. She recommended a couple of types she thought I would do well with. Later that spring, another friend of mine was dividing some perennials and offered some of those. And then that fall, I saw an indoor plant that was on clearance at the garden center. She was singing to me.

“Take a chance on me

Gonna do my very best

And it ain’t no lie

If you put me to the test

If you let me try

Take a chance on me

That’s all I ask of you, honey

Take a chance on me”


How do you say no to that? I took her home and cleared off a spot by the window. That shelf has been hers ever since.

Where do we go from here? I have a recipe in mind for this week. It is for spiced walnuts. I’m not sure how it fits into the blog because this one isn’t really about food. Well, in a way it could be. I’ve been writing about a journey towards being healthier. And as we’ve seen, that journey’s not always easy. Sometimes we fall short of our goal. I thought it was important to talk about that subject before I go, to remember that all of our journeys have rough spots. And if we are able to see those rough spots as learning and not failing, our journeys become easier. I’m still working on making small changes and better choices. I am still making halfway healthy meals. Thank you for following along with me, and “Thank You” to Anthony for giving me the opportunity to share my story with you. Good luck to all of us as we navigate the balancing act of both hotdogs and quinoa.

Blog written by Sarah Holtz on 31st July 2021