Thursday, July 16, 2015

Summer love

I took a walk tonight.  The light was dimming as I hurried home, and I noticed hundreds of fireflies, dancing around the park at the end of the street.  It occurred to me that I hadn't seen fireflies in a while.  In fact, I couldn't remember the last time I really saw hoardes of them like that.  Maybe I haven't spent enough time outside at dusk in recent summers.  It made me smile, thinking about catching them in my backyard when I was little.

I'm trying to be more mindful of things these days.  I keep seeing this commercial, the one where the moms are busting their butts to exercise in front of their kids.  Sometimes it makes me feel good, because I take my daughter out in her jogger and show her how great it is to be outdoors and running.  Sometimes it makes me feel bad, because it makes me feel like I could be doing more.  I could make better food choices, or I could run more. I could spend less time on Facebook, and more time reading. I could write more.  Kevin and I could get a babysitter more.  I could take Kit to the zoo.

That commercial always makes me tear up, though.  Those moms are working so hard.  Setting an example.  Do the kids see?  Do they get it?

As a mom, it can be hard to feel like you're doing enough of anything.  Or everything.  When did being a mom start carrying so much pressure?  Has it always been like this?  I wonder if cavemoms worried that their cavebabies weren't getting enough attention.  Did cavemoms worry about what they looked like, or other cavemoms judging them?  Or is this pressure something that has largely come with a more digital age, an age where all of our private lives are displayed for all of our friends and families to see?

I walked around our mile-long block tonight because I wanted to make sure I was coming in under my calorie goal today.  I put a lot of pressure on myself.  To lose the rest of my pregnancy weight, to get faster again.  I can't count the number of times I've been told to "just worry about enjoying the baby" (toddler now) because it all goes so fast.  I can agree with that; Kit turned one in the blink of an eye.  But see, we have a responsibility as moms to set an example.  An example of love, loving ourselves.  Showing our little girls and little boys how to do that.  Moms, we have to take care of ourselves.  You have to go for a run, or do yoga, or just get your toenails done; do whatever it is that makes you feel human.  Don't do it to punish yourselves, because your children are intuitive little beasts,  They will pick up on those cues.  Do something that makes you feel like celebrating, because those are the things that make you feel great about yourself.  Your kids will pick up on those cues, too.  Do what you love.  You'll feel good.  Your kids will feel that.

And hard as it is sometimes, you have to love what you see.  So many strong women I know look in the mirror and see weakness, see ugly, see fat.  So many look in the mirror and see something dysmorphic, something that isn't even there at all.  How can we expect our children not to carry on our negative feelings when we constantly vocalize them? Find a dress that makes you feel amazing in the body you're in. Love yourselves.

And for me, maybe that love comes from taking a walk by myself, instead of spending 20 minutes on Facebook.  Life is too short, guys.  Do what you can, and feel good about it.  The firefly show was awesome.

until later...

"Power is not given to you.  You have to take it." ~Beyonce

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Thought I'd share the recipe I made up today for chicken tortilla soup, because it turned out yummy! 


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can of Campbell's Fiesta Nacho Cheese condensed soup
1 cup chicken broth (I used water with 2 boullion cubes
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 yellow onion OR fajita mix of onions & peppers
1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced
1 anaheim pepper, seeded and diced
2 Tbs minced garlic
2 Tbs olive oil
salt, pepper, cayenne pepper to taste

Step one: Sear thawed chicken breasts in a pan with olive oil and diced poblano/anaheim peppers.  Season with salt and pepper (black and cayenne if desired).  Flip after 3-4 minutes and add minced garlic and onion (or fajita mix). Continue cooking 3-4 minutes.
Step two: Transfer mixture to crock pot.  Add the Fiesta Nacho Cheese soup and chicken broth.  Stir a little (mixture will be chunky to start).  Cook on low for a few hours, or until chicken can be shredded,
Step three: Remove and shred chicken.  Return to crock.  Add black beans and corn, stir.  Continue cooking for a half an hour.
Step four: Spoon into your bowl and enjoy!  You can top with cheese, sour cream... we used fresh pico de gallo, yum!

until later...

"Soup is a lot like family.  Each ingredient enhances the others; each batch has its own characteristics; and it needs time to simmer to reach full flavor." ~Marge Kennedy

Sunday, January 19, 2014


In early November, my husband and I found out we were expecting.  We were happy!  We were terrified!  But while this should be a very exciting time, but I have encountered some roadblocks along the way that have left me unable to enjoy much of my pregnancy.   In my first trimester extreme fatigue, coupled with an unusually cold/snowy/icy winter, made getting outside to exercise very difficult for me.  I realize that the first trimester is a time to rest, and grow tiny baby parts, and all of that.  But it's also a time to take care of yourself, and I do feel that exercise is an important part of self-care.  Both physically and mentally.

This brings us to the second trimester, which is the time many women get their pizazz back.  I went into January geared up to get my moving back on track, only to get hit with a head cold and a back injury.  Like, really?  We're not talking a "go get a nice massage" back-ache.  We are talking "hold the walls and shuffle your feet to try to get to the bathroom" injury.  From getting my coat out of a closet.  It was debilitating and frustrating.  I felt like I was in this really deep hole, and I didn't know how to get out of it.  On top of that, everyone is posting happy pictures of snow running, and getting geared up for run camp this winter.  And Kevin is team-leading at another run camp, so it all just kind of leaves me feeling super bummed out.  Kind of a depressing way to kick off a second trimester.  Even worse, a really terrible mental state to foster a healthy pregnancy.

So today, with my back finally feeling well enough to exercise, and the sun shining on the snow out there, I decided to trek out for a short run.  For once, it actually felt good to pull on all of my layers.  My Yak Trax had cobwebs on them (how's that for a metaphor for my life).  I told myself it didn't matter if I only went a mile, or how slow that mile was.  I just needed to get out and feel some rhythm in my body.  Some movement.  Remember what the air outside feels like.  I have been so caught up in worrying.  Worrying about feeling better, hurting the baby, the future.  Somehow, by spending the last several months "resting", I haven't taken much time to take care of myself.

So, in the end, I had a nice (however brief) tromp around the block out there.  Things I was fearful of, like running on the snow, weren't scary.  I didn't feel unsafe, I dressed appropriately, this was old hat. I've done this hundreds of times.  I ran a lot slower, but I think I was making a lot of excuses out of fear I'd do something wrong.  But I know what I'm doing.

Maybe I'll sign up for run camp after all.  Perhaps my mental health outweighs the cost of camp.  A thought I hadn't pondered.

until later...

"A healthy attitude is contagious, but don't wait to catch it from others.  Be a carrier."  ~Tom Stoppard 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Happy National Running Day!

Today is National Running Day.  I don't know who created this "holiday", but it essentially means that across the country, folks are lacing up their trainers and heading out to log some miles.  Here in Kalamazoo, it is a beautiful day; sunny skies, moderate temps, seriously enjoyable running weather.  I know a lot of my running friends are getting out there tonight if they haven't already... and if you're not a runner, today would be a perfect day to take a first step.  Allow me to dispel a few myths about running....

Uh, yeah.  I don't actually know any runners who look like that.  
Most of us are just normal, average, non-Kenyan runners.  The beauty of running is, there is no mold of what a "runner" looks like.  Walk into any shopping mall and pick any ten people at random, and any of them could be a runner if they wanted to.  
There is zero criteria for "what a runner looks like".
  • I'M TOO SLOW TO BE A RUNNER.  Sorry, that's a myth, too.  Unless you are a freak of speed like a handful of people I know, you are probably not going to win any races.  And that's fine.  You're probably not going to come in last, either.  Also fine.  And if you DO come in last, that is ALSO FINE.  You still finished a race while bunches of other people stayed home and watched reruns of Full House.  (Have mercy.)
  • IF I FAIL, IT WILL BREAK ME.  No, it won't.  Sometimes I go out for a run, and I can't get my mojo working.  I'm tired, my brain starts telling me I suck at this, and I quit and go home.  It's a bad day.  So, I read a book or play with my dogs, and I try again another day.  Fact is, sometimes you are going to suck at running.  It's not a big deal, unless you give up completely and never put your shoes back on.  If you're having a bad day, you can quit.  You just have to make sure you never quit trying, because one bad day is not the end of all good days.  
  • PEOPLE WILL LAUGH AT ME.  No, they won't.  And if they do, they are probably an asshole or feel threatened by you.  You are better than that.
  • I'M TOO OLD TO RUN.  Nope.  Don't let age discourage you from trying.  I know people that I guarantee are older than you that are out there jogging along.  
  • RUNNING IS BORING.  Running is as boring as you let it be.  Running the same loop in your neighborhood like I do a lot?  Boring.  Running with a few friends?  Much less boring.  Doing a local race with a whole bunch of other people?  Not boring.  Doing a run like The Color Run or Warrior Dash or a glow run or something else that involves lots of people slinging crap at you?  Actually, those are super fun.  Find a way to put the fun into your running.  Frunning.  (TRADEMARK)
  • I CAN'T RUN.  You can.  

So today, for National Running Day, I implore you to get out there.  Instead of telling yourself no, tell yourself yes.  I'm not asking for a marathon, I'm asking for you to tack on 30 seconds of jogging to a walk tonight.  Make a choice- you are better than the voices in your head that try to keep you down.  You couldn't ask for a more perfect day to start an uprising.  

Until later...

"Do not fear going forward slowly; fear only to stand still." ~ Chinese Proverb 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Banana Bread

I must be on a crazy banana kick this week.  Actually, there was just an abundance of over-ripe bananas in this house.  I found this recipe for Blueberry Banana Bread and altered it just a bit (mainly because I didn't have any berries).  It is vegan, easy to make gluten-free, and totally delicious.  And it took the exact amount of time it said, which I appreciate!


  • 3 large over-ripe bananas
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup applesauce (or can use almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk... but I used applesauce)
  • 1/2 cup honey (recipe calls for agave, honey worked great)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat flour, and the link gives some instruction on what she used to make it gluten-free)
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Other optional ingredients: cinnamon, berries, nuts, raisins, I put some oats on the top of mine =)
  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • IF YOU ARE USING ALMOND OR SOY MILK.  Add a Tbsp of lemon juice and let it stand about a minute to let it curdle.  Or... just use applesauce.  
  • Mash bananas in a container until smooth but a little chunky.  
  • Add the other wet ingredients to the bananas (lemon juice, applesauce, honey/agave).  
  • In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients.  (I added cinnamon to my dry ingredients, about a Tbsp.)  Then add the wet ingredients and stir well to coat the dry.  
  • In a greased or sprayed load pan, add the bread mixture.  This is where I sprinkled some oats across the top and patted them in before baking.  =)  
  • Bake at 350 for 50 minutes.  Insert toothpick and make sure it comes out clean!
Next time I will certainly beef this up with some nuts and berries.  It was so good on it's own, though; and even better the next day after a night in the fridge!

Happy baking!

Until later....

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Yummy Oatmeal Cookies!

I stumbled across this recipe for some no-refined-sugar-added cookies when a friend commented on a photo on Facebook.  Thought I'd give them a try today, and they turned out very delicious!  Dairy-free, and easy to make gluten-free, too!  (The particular oatmeal I used does contain some wheat products.)


  • 3 ripe, mashed bananas
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 cups oats (I used some oatmeal with flax seed in it)
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (I used coconut milk)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Sliced and mashed the bananas.  I added the applesauce, stirring to mix it all up.
  • Added the cinnamon and vanilla.
  • Next I added the oats, one cup at time, mixing to coat.
  • Last, I added the coconut milk and raisins.  (Next time, I think I'll add some nuts, too!)
  • Bake at 350.  The recipe said 15-20 minutes, I did close to 30 minutes.  End result was, once they cooled, the texture was a lot more cookie-like than I figured it would be!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Thoughts on Boston

I woke up this morning, the day after the bombing at the Boston Marathon, and I was really angry.

I was angry about the many people, crowding the streets to show support for their family members and friends, who were injured.  I was angry about the 8-year-old boy, murdered just moments after running out to give his dad a hug.  And angry about his sister, who like many, lost a limb.  I was angry for people like my friend Aaron, who has trained for most of his life just to get to Boston, only to have his accomplishment tarnished.  I was also angry for the people who trained so hard but didn't get to finish, robbed of the joyous moment you feel crossing the finish line.  Some might find that irrational in light of so many more tragic stories.

Looking through the news this morning, I just found it all unbearable.  Too much sadness, too much pointing fingers before we even have answers.  Too much fear.    And it's hard not to be fearful.  It's hard not to think, "This could have been anywhere." It could have been New York.  It could have been the Chicago or Detroit marathons, both of which my husband and I have been at more than once.  How do you even begin to make peace with the senselessness?

So I did what I always do when I'm angry, or upset, or stressed; I went for a run.

Here is what happened while I ran down the Bicentennial Trail here in Portage.

I ran the first half mile quietly, without music.  Just the birds and my feet.  Soft sounds.  I reflected on the people who lost family, or have injured family.  I said words for them.  I thanked the powers that be that my friends there that day were safe, and accounted for.  I thought about how thankful I am that we have a community that embraces all runners, all people; the same community that organized a run tonight at the trail I ran on today, to show solidarity with the people in Boston.  (If you'd like to go and run, walk, or just show support, here is the info: Kalamazoo Solidarity Run)

For the rest of my run, the sun came out.  I smiled and waved at the people who, like me, were out moving.  I melted when a rollerblader went past with two dachshund puppies on leashes, dashing out ahead happily.  I noted things in the blogspace I keep in my head.  I picked up my pace.  I concentrated on my breathing.  I focused.

And when I was done with four miles, I sat on the warm pavement and just kind of soaked up the sunshine for a minute.  We are so lucky.  We are lucky for every day we get on this planet.  We are lucky for the life that courses through our veins, our muscles.  It would be shameful to waste that life on fear.

Runners are a close community, but one with open arms.  When I first started running, I was embraced by my Kalamazoo Area Runners family.  After that, by my Borgess Run Camp family.  And after that, my EPIC Crew family.  It is not uncommon to meet someone at a race, while running, and form a friendship.  This is maybe part of why yesterday's tragedy struck such a resonant chord with so many, worldwide even.  Because runners are a family, and we take care of our family.

And I wish for peace and healing for all of our family affected.

"And it's hard to dance with the devil on your back- so shake it out."                                       ~ Florence + the Machine