Monday, August 30, 2010

Who Knew?

I'm faced with a decision tonight that is difficult.   My life has changed so much in the past four months since I began my Insanity journey.  Who knew a different type of workout would so dramatically change my life?

I have always known that my main purpose in life is be a motivator to others.  Whatever platform I'm given or presented with in life, I know it will be the avenue that leads me to be a positive role model to inspire others to start their own journey to a healthier lifestyle.

Running is and always has been my love.  The weather is finally starting to cool down a bit and Saturday morning's training run was nothing shy of a spiritual renewal for me.  It's the most gratifying and pleasurable time I have with nature.  It gives me peace, brings some clarity to my thoughts and solidifies my passion for being healthy.

Four months ago, I was introduced to Insanity for some reason.  I was skeptical and resistant, but curious.  I stepped out of my comfort zone and gave it a try.  That comfort zone allowed myself to drink 600 calories worth of 'crap' in my coffee every morning and gave me permission to be average.

Now, I'm on my second round of Insanity, I have control of my diet, I've lost 10 pounds, I've dropped a size in my pants, I've taken two inches off my waist and I've become a faster runner.  Who knew what a home workout DVD would do to change my life?

On a whim, I pitched my idea to our local Fox station to do a consumer report about Insanity.  Who knew they would take me up on the idea? Now that television segment about Insanity is posted everywhere online, including the blog of Beachbody CEO, Carl Daikeler.  Who knew?

Tonight I'm faced with a decision.  I just found out Tony Horton of P90X / Beachbody fame will be in Dallas for a day long seminar on September 18th.  That is the same day a 20K race that I love to run in Dallas.  Sometimes the hardest decisions are what lead us to our true purpose in life.  I want to run that race, but my heart is telling me to attend the seminar.

What do you do when faced with a difficult decision? Do you go with your heart?  Do you take a leap of faith?  Do you play it safe?  I think I know what I need to do.  I don't even think I need to sleep on this one.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saturday

I love Saturdays.  Sometimes I wish I could play a character similar to Bill Murray in Ground Hog Day and continually wake up to Saturday morning. 

It doesn't matter that I get up the ungodly hour of 3:30 a.m. because it's Saturday.  I have the option to nap later if I choose.

I run and train for my marathon with my running friends on Saturday and share a camaraderie that is difficult to explain to others.  It gives me so much joy and makes whatever stress I'm feeling manageable.

I can stop at Starbucks and drive the speed limit because I'm not in a hurry.  There are no rush hour traffic jams because it's Saturday.

I can shower when I want and make up is optional. A tank and my yoga pants are my staple on Saturday afternoons.

There are no meals need that to be quickly prepared or lunches that need to be packed on Saturday.

There are simple chores around the house that need to be done, but no one is there to evaluate how effectively I'm folding underwear or washing a glass on Saturday.

I can spend Saturday afternoon blogging or tweeting or facebooking if I choose or make my weekly visit to the library with my son.  If we're not done with some books, there are no deadlines, we just simply renew them until next Saturday.

We can make dinner or call an audible and dine out on Saturday.  It doesn't matter as long as we share a meal together.

We can watch a movie, go out with friends, build Lego's, play games or read a book on Saturday evening.  There are no definitive plans and enjoyment is the common denominator in any activity we select.

I can drink a glass of wine or two on Saturday evening.  Perhaps a mimosa if I'm out.

I can stay up as late I was want or check in early on Saturday night and hopefully, I'll wake up and do it all over again.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

It's a DEAL!

When it comes to working out, I do not settle for mediocrity.  I like to run hard, burn lots of calories and sweat profusely.  It makes me feel alive and it makes an average day transpire into a fulfilling and gratifying one.

Four months ago, I began a new workout.  Thanks to the suggestion of my fabulous brother, I started the Insanity
60-Day Challenge
.  I had heard of P90X, but I knew nothing about Insanity.  He thought it might be a good fit for me and an excellent complement to the running and Bikram yoga I had been doing.  He couldn't have been more right.

When I started Insanity in May, I expected it to be hard, but I didn't expect that I would nearly bring me to tears at the end of every workout.  With steadfast determination to finish the 60 day challenge, I was persistent and regimented.  I didn't miss a single workout, I logged every single thing I ate and I stayed on top of my running schedule.

I've done other challenges, but my results have always been minimal, mediocre at best.  Enter INSANITY  In just 60 days, my body fat went down 4 percent.  I lost 9 lbs and lost a size in my pants.  It's no joke!  I did the work, I was consistent, I ate right. 

Perhaps the most exciting part of the experience was that I was fortunate to be a part of consumer report on our local news station in Dallas.  I've been dying to share this, but I had to be patient until it aired.  I could really use a 60-day challenge in patience as well. 

Who knew one the many benefits would be five minutes of local fame!



The one thing I am hoping for is that this video will inspire and motivate others.  You see, I don't have a lot of time.  I work full time and I have two kids.  HOWEVER, I make my health a top priority.  It means getting up earlier than I want, eating right when I want to be wrong and being supported unconditionally by my husband.  It all translates to a better overall well-being of my whole family.

This workout is NOT for everyone.  But there is SOMETHING for everyone.  What would it take for you to start your own challenge?

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Who Am I?

Today my boys started school.  With the beginning of each year, I go in with the intentions of teaching them so many things and undoubtedly, I will end up learning so much more from them. 

That's my boys, looking handsome as ever for their first day.  I wish I could freeze that moment, but growing
up is fact of life and I'm excited to see what the future has in store for both of them.


Jackson came home today with a small, white paper bag.  His assignment - fill the bag with five things that best represent who he is.  That was easy for him:  a lock of his curly hair, a rock from his collection, drawings of his super heroes, pictures of characters he played in theater camp and a Dallas Cowboys helmet.

I thought it was such a cool task, that I decided to do my own.  Have you ever thought about trying this?  What 'THINGS' represent who you are?  It started out being harder than I anticipated, but once I thought about who I really am, the task was easy. It filled me with joy and made me so grateful for the life I have.

1.  A favorite picture of my family.  Our shadows.  That's us holding hands to represent that we are one strong unit.   I love this photo because it is also very symbolic of a higher power watching over us.

 

2.  Kale and Almonds.   They are two of my favorite Super Foods that represent my love for healthy food.


3.  My Garmin 305 Trainer - or Apollo as I like to call him.  It represents my love for running and my undying quest to always try to be stronger and faster. 

4.  Yoga pants and tank. Catch me any time at home and that is most  likely what I'll be wearing.  It's when I feel most comfortable in my own skin and who I truly am.



5.  Dallas Cowboys Helmet.  I love LOVE LOVE sports and I simply LOVE the Dallas Cowboys.  With the season just around the corner and the stadium within view from my house, watching them makes me happy.


What would you put in your bag if you had to pick just five things?  I've love to know!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Awards

I hate to admit, but I am finally getting around to accepting these wonderful awards I've been given by my fellow bloggers.  What a great community of bloggers!  You all are so thoughtful and you all inspire me!

Here we go!
 
Angie at Angies healthy living blog awarded me the Sunshine Award.  “The Sunshine Award is awarded to bloggers whose positivity and creativity inspire others in the blogging world.”   I also like to believe it's for enduring the heat this summer in Texas.  Thank you Angie.   You inspire me with great ideas for staying healthy and for introducing me to Flexitarianism!

 
Rules:
1. Post the award on your blog.
2. Pass the award on to 2 fellow bloggers.
3. Link the nominees.
4. Let nominees know they have won this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and link to the person you received this award from.

I'm passing this award on to Kelsey at Kreated by Kelsey for helping me with my blog and being so helpful and to Lula Lola for her uncanny ability to be sarcastic, creative and funny all at the same time!
 

Amy at The Adventures of JAMC gave me the award below.  Amy is so kind and I just love reading her blog about her life with two boys with Aspergers.  It's humbling, heart-warming and encouraging.  Thanks Amy for the Versatile Blogger and Beautiful Blogger Awards!
 
 
The rules for being a Versatile and Beautiful Blogger are to tell you 7 random things about myself and pass this on to 7 other well-deserving bloggers.  Here it goes.
  1.  I'm a red head and when I was a little girl, I thought I was supposed to marry a boy with red hair.  I'm glad I broke the rules and my exact opposite in Cedric!
  2. I am such a tom boy.  I could watch 10 hours of football on a Sunday and love every second of it!  If the Cowboys lose, please don't talk to me for at least a few hours.
  3. I wasn't always into being healthy.  I was chubby and insecure as a young girl.
  4. I HATE being cold.  HATE it.  But I LOVE to run in COLD weather.
  5. I have a HUGE fear of birds.  Want to scare the ever-living crap out of me?  Buy me a bird.
  6. I moved to Texas two weeks after my college graduation from North Dakota. I didn't have a job, car or know a soul.   Thirteen years later, that leap of faith was worth it.  How's that for being brave?
  7. I get my sense of humor from my Dad.  So, 90 percent of the time, the first thing out of my mouth, will be a sarcastic remark.
 I'm passing this award on to my fellow bloggers whose blogs I simply love to read.
 
1.  Sherri at Old Tweener
2.  Dr. Mom at Confessions of a Dr. Mom
3.  Teresha at Marlie and Me
4.  Tracy at Fit n Stitchin
5.  Booyah's Mama at The Adventures of Chip and Bobo
6.  Danica at Chic Runner

Then the LOVELY ladies at Tell Me Something Good gave me the One Lovely Blog Award.  Thanks ladies!  Thanks for putting together such a thought provoking and inspiring blog!  I love it!


I am supposed to tell you 7 things about myself in order to accept this, but since I just did that, I'm going to pass this award on to Jill at Life As I See It.  I share so many interests and similarities with Jill and am truly in awe of her amazing photography.  Check it out!
 
 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Routines

Normally, I am a stickler for schedules.  I don't like to be late,  I eat at specific times each day and I like things to be planned. 

When it comes to my marathon training, following a routine is important for me.  I have a daily schedule that I follow.  Some days focus on hills, other days on speed and long runs simply focus on logging the miles.  Saturdays are particularly regimented.  As my mileage starts to get into the high teens for these long runs, it is essential to be habitual to prepare for the actual marathon.  Some things work, others don't and hopefully after six months of training, I'll have a pretty good sense of how to prepare for marathon day.  It doesn't always work like that, i.e. Marine Corps Marathon 2009, but for the most part, preparation and routine are keys for success.

Essential components of training for me include eating relatively the same thing the day before a long training run, wearing the same type of clothing and carrying the right fuel with me during my runs.  Most runners will say that once they find what works, they rarely stray from that routine.  Ask a runner who has experienced chaffing between his or her legs and you'll understand why a run without Body Glide is a recipe for disaster.

I'm not sure why, but lately, I have dismissed my very purposeful Friday meal preparations and have paid little or no attention to the potential disastrous effects of this lax behavior.  In the past, Friday meals are smoothie for breakfast, turkey sandwich at lunch and pasta for dinner.  In fact, I have even made sure to visit local grocery stores when traveling to make sure I don't stray from this regimen.

It is no wonder that eating a salad with steamed broccoli and chicken last night for dinner was a set up for a most uncomfortable run today.  If only hindsight would have directed me to take the time to boil my pasta!  At about mile six, I started to feel some discomfort in my stomach which became very noticeable by mile eight.  It became extremely uncomfortable on the slightest declines and my thoughts became consumed with finding an escape route. 

The decision to use a port a potty on a private residential property under construction was a HUGE REMINDER that I will NEVER stray from my routine again.  I basically had to have an out of body experience to get through the horror of placing myself inside that hell box.  Ironically, when I exited, I noticed a cleaning schedule, with the last occurring two days ago.  (It's amazing what happens in a 48-hour time frame.)  The box served its purpose, but the punishment was enough for me to start behaving again with my regimented diet.

I finished my 15-mile run, exhausted and humbled.  So I got the bad poop story out of me for this training season.  I seem to have one each season!  Let's just hope this one is an omen for great race day!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Morning After Club

I found this recipe in the latest edition of O Magazine and just had to try!  The best part is that it can be the perfect breakfast, lunch or dinner.  I have to say, my mouth watered when I saw this recipe and it didn't disappoint.  I had one of those eyes closed, shoulders shrugged, face smiling moments with every bite.  It's a perfect combination of quality carbs, protein and fat. 

Tonight's recipe:  Almond Butter and Bacon Sandwich

Thinly sliced whole grain bread
2 Tbsp. natural almond butter
1 tart apple, cut into thin strips
4 slices bacon (I prefer turkey bacon)



Toast bread; spread 1 Tbsp. almond butter on each slice of bread.  Lay apple over almond butter.   Top each with 2 slices of crisp bacon.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle of sea salt if desired.  (I didn't desire).

Assemble sandwich by stacking toast, with a plain slice in the middle to form a classic double-layer club.


I'm a huge fan!  Half a sandwich (using 1 1/2 slices of bread and turkey bacon) is about 540 calories.

Enjoy!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Blahville

Today's post was written by my dear friend, confidant and running partner, Jo.  I decided to share it today since it has been one of those blah days for me for many reasons and her encouragement is always a gentle reminder for me to break out of the blah quickly.  Enjoy.  I think you'll see why she is such a special friend to me.

Blah
We all have hit that Blah place in our work, family, workouts, finances, study and school – all spheres of life. Life is cyclical, and the Blah fog is expected to hit every now and then. The best thing to do is to manage the Blah as best as we can, and get out of Blahville as quickly as we can. While we cannot control the onset of Blah, or even that Blah moves into your spare bedroom uninvited, continuing to live in the Blah and with the Blah when you have a chance to break free from the Blah – that is the true crime.


I am happily writing today from outside of Blahville. My last visits have been quick – in and out. After I peer outside the window of the bus or the train that got me there, clutching dearly to my belongings, and once I recognize the familiar signs and sights of Blah, I do my best to hightail out of there. In my current station – today, here and now – I enjoy a fairly steady stream of workouts, decent nutrition, rest and hydration – goodies that are not available in any store in Blahville. I give thanks each morning to not wake and find myself in the familiar but dreaded stop of Blah. To keep the Blah blues away, I am grateful for and truly enjoy morning runs with my running family. Whenever I have a moment in my day, I stretch and do some light core exercises, or simply get up from my desk and walk a little. I enjoy frequent Yoga classes that I teach - this especially will get me out of Blahville the fastest – just try serving others and notice how short your stay in Blahville becomes.

If you feel stuck in Blahville, it is not a one-way condemnation. Pound your fist on the ticket counter and demand to be extradited! Run outside with the kids… go for a swim… invite a co-worker for a walk around [your office] building… call a friend and laugh – that burns calories too and improves blood flow and endorphins! Wash the car – meaning actually get out of the car and get wet and sudsy. Whatever you do, whatever you enjoy, make sure the destination is out of and away from the evil city! And when you run out of ideas, briskly walk down to the [your] Wellness Center and see if [they] can’t find some new ideas for you.

I hope you’re not reading this from Blahville. If you are, and if you see the mayor of Blahville, say hi for me. And tell him that I hope it’s a long, long time before I see him again. But my hope is that you don’t stay there long enough to meet the entire city council – that lot will only bring you down.

Santé,

Jo

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Mother Knows Best

It's Hot.  It's really HOT!  Factor in a WHOLE lot of humidity and you have all the fixings for me to be one tired runner.

I just checked the forecast and there really is no reprieve in site. Instead, today is the 15th day in a row with temps over 100 degrees.

Our local meteorologist just assured me that there is a cold front coming along next week and by the looks of this, I just better break out the parka and thermal socks! Hallelujah!!


In meteorology terms, 'cold front' is code for 'a bunch of malarky!'

There's no telling the negotiating I'd be willing to do with Ms. Mother Nature if I could just get one day of some cool relief.

"Oh please Ms. Mother Nature, this heat has put me in some very precarious situations", I'd plead with her. 

"You see, earlier this week I wore khaki pants to work, went to lunch and when I returned I had sweat stains in spots that I'd rather not discuss, but let's just say, nothing says professional like a big 'ol sweaty crotch.

Then today, during my long Saturday 14-mile run, someone dumped some ice cubes on the ground, near the dog park, and I didn't even hesitate to pick up a handful that was probably a covered in some kind of fecal matter and shove them down my sports bra for relief."

Mother Nature would blush in embarrassment for me.

"Oh dear! I simply cannot change the course of nature for one individual's convenience", she'd reply.

"BUT YOU ARE NATURE!  YOU ARE MOTHER NATURE!" I would shout.

After being slightly taken aback by my verbal lashes, Mother Nature would simply explain.

"I know this weather is taking it's toll on you and your attitude, but it is only making you stronger.  You're running a marathon in December, right?  All this summer training may be a physical beating right now, but when the time comes for you to run 26.2, you'll be an efficient running machine.  And didn't you say you wanted to qualify for Boston?  No one ever said it's going to be easy."

I would sigh in anguish, wishing she was just feeding me a bunch of malarky.  "Why is she ALWAYS right?"  I'd ask myself.

"Just stick with it, endure the tough runs, get lots of rest and before you know it, I'll be stopping by again to bring you those cooler days," she reminded me.  "But until then, my dear, let's stick to black pants, I can't do anything about that hormonal issue, you'll have to talk to Mother Estrogen for that."

This post is part of the WOW!
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Thursday, August 12, 2010

ACTs and Curious George

I'm anxiously awaiting the start of the school year as the summer comes to an end.  With fall on the horizon, school commencing is an exciting beginning for me, a fresh start and a new chapter into my life as a mother of a high school senior and first-grader.

The end of summer is a difficult pill to swallow to LulaLola, who's cherishing every last moment spent with her boys and for Dr. Mom, whose end of summer blues has her relishing in the anticipation of alone time often overlooked by many mothers of young children.

The start of a new school year is an exciting experience for me.  This year most likely will bring more joy and sadness than I've ever experienced.  The next nine months will involve a complete spectrum of challenges to my parental skills.  I'll try to somehow try to find a balance between the preparatory planning of a college-bound senior with the foundational structured learning of my first-grader.

This year has all the expectations to be a very memorable one.  I feel like I need to take a big...long...deep...breath.  I'm going to relish in every page of Keelan's final chapter as I eagerly open a brand new book for Jackson.

This school year means preparing for final ACT and SAT tests and college applications to Keelan and packing superhero backpacks and Star Wars lunch boxes to Jackson.

This school year means Friday nights packed with football and marching band to Keelan and Saturday afternoons packed with organized soccer chaos to Jackson.

This school year means taking Senior pictures and driving a my car to Keelan and drawing stick-figure self-portraits and riding a bicycle to Jackson.

This school year means girlfriends and break-ups and texting and talking on the phone all...night...long to Keelan and teacher crushes and boo-boos and calling Grandma on the weekend to Jackson.

This school year means planning for graduation to Keelan and learning to become a successful reader to Jackson.

This school year will be be an emotional roller coaster ride for me and prideful joyride to Ced.

I can't wait for school to start and to see my boys flourish.  I love to watch them together and to see how they learn from each other despite being 11 years apart in age.

Perhaps I'll learn more than anyone this school year. 




Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wholesome Dinner

I love Whole Foods.  Whenever I enter the store, I feel completely 'whole'some and that makes me happy.


I really could go on a crazy spending spree, buying up everything from gluten free waffles to stress-relieving breath mints. Without a list or definitive plan, the seductive pure naked coconut water will lure me its way and before I know it, I will succumb to the temptation of organic goodness.

I was on mission to make a healthy, protein packed vegetarian dinner tonight.  With that in mind, I made my way in and out quickly buying only the few items I needed to make a perfect salad for a HOT summer day like today.

This week's recipe is: Mediterranean Garbanzo Salad (compliments of Whole Foods of course)

Ingredients:
Makes one serving (you can easily double or triple)
5 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 small zucchini or yellow squash, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
½ (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans, rinse and drained
2 Tbsp. roughly chopped parsley
1 Tbsp. prepared balsamic vinaigrette or Italian dressing
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Ground pepper to taste
2 or 3 lettuce leaves, torn into large bite size pieces


Toss together all ingredients, except lettuce, in a large bowl.  Arrange lettuce on a dinner plate and top with bean mixture.  Simple, wholesome, fresh!  Serve with some pita chips or whole grain crackers on the side and your meal is complete at less than 350 calories.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Turning Dreams Into Goals

I’m a firm believer in setting goals. I’ve done some research lately on how much more effective you become in achieving your goals if you physically write them down. Until you write them down, your goals are just a dream.

So let me take this opportunity to write down a very personal goal to me. It has been a dream of mine for as long as I've been running, although I felt it has always been somewhat unachievable. That is why today I am putting my my dream to paper and am setting my mind up to achieve this goal.



Qualifying to run the Boston Marathon is one of those bucket list items that most distance runners have.  Not just anyone can sign up to run Boston. That is the prestige and history behind the event. You must qualify by running under a certain time in another marathon. Your qualifying time is based on sex and age. The best part is that the older you get, the slower your qualifying time. Yet, another perk of getting older!

I turned 35 this past year, so I was granted an additional five minutes. Thank you marathons gods and goddesses! In other words, I have to run it in 3:45 or less. Or to all you running junkies, that’s an average 8:34 pace spread out over 26.2 miles. Writing it down is the easy part, implementing it is the challenge!

In the past, I guess you could say I had the goal to finish my marathons. Qualifying was not on the top on my list of goals. Even though I had that magical qualifying time looming in my head, I NEVER wrote it down and though I was successful in finishing all three times, I didn’t come close to qualifying.

I’ve given this some long, hard thought and I have envisioned every possible scenario of crossing the finish line in December.  Each vision has me finishing, arms in the air, with the magical time in bright lights blinking above my head. 

This is my year! If I’m good at one thing, it is working really hard on a physical level. I know my limits and love to go beyond them. I love to see what I can achieve when I set my mind to something.  The gratification of checking another item off ‘my list” is a moment I always cherish.

I just took a brief look at my closet and the very obvious fact remains that I run. And I’ve run a lot.

This is just the shoes I currently wear and those with sentimental value I simply cannot let go. 
It doesn't factor in the numerous pairs that have made their way to Goodwill.


I was going through some old running things and came across this checklist that I probably got at some race expo along the way. I didn't even know I had it.

 
But I would say I'm pretty good at following the rules.


Why would I invest so much time and money into something that I love so much and not ever give myself the opportunity to do the one thing that most runners dream to do?  I'm going to make my dream a reality.
What are your goals? Do you write them down?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

You Inspire Me - Week 2

I watched three full hours of NFL Hall of Fame speeches last night.  Yep, I love football, but I also love to get inspired and motivated.  A couple speeches were so-so, a few were okay, but the last two were powerful.  Both were filled with stories of football memories, but they were more about teaching lessons about how to be successful in life.

But my inspiration this week is not a NFL hero.  It's about an ordinary woman whom I've never met.  An ordinary woman that has to do extraordinary things to live a normal life.

Today's Inspiration: Army Blogger Wife, a.k.a. ABW

I've been fortunate to come across ABW's blog over the past few months through a mutual friend.  She writes about coping with being the wife of a soldier, while raising their three children.  Her husband has just been deployed for his fourth tour - this time to Afghanistan, for a year.

Fourth Tour.  Afghanistan.  For a Year.  I Cannot Comprehend.

ABW inspires me because she not only has to play the role of mother and supportive wife, but for the next year has to keep a sense of normalcy for her children, while her husband is serving his county on the other side of the world.
On top of all the everyday tasks she must take on by herself, she must find strength in herself to be a strong mother for her children.   There's no 'Go ask Daddy' diversions when she doesn't have the courage to say no.  There's no 'Honey, I need a girl's night out' demands when she's had a stressful day.  No husband to open the pickle jar or to rub her feet at night.

My husband has always taught me to prepare for the worst, but to always hope for the best.  That phrase means so much more to the wife of a soldier.  In this recent post, she describes an absolute heart-wrenching scene at at deployment briefing for family.  ABW's 9-year old daughter got up in front of a group of hundreds of people to ask, "Is my daddy going to come home?"  Can you even imagine having the emotional strength as well to comfort your children?

I don't know ABW.  I've never met her.  Yet, every night before I fall asleep, I find myself thinking about her.  I pray that her family copes well over the next year.  I hope that ABW will have the strength and courage to be the strong presence for her children while Daddy is away.  I want her to have friends around to help her and support her.  I anticipate a safe return of her husband so that she can have the 'normal' life that I have.

My husband served 20 years in the military in the Air National Guard. He was only on active duty twice. Once he stayed at the base...and came home EVERY night.  The other time was a 2-week 'tour' to New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. Both of those times were hard for me, but I knew it wouldn't last long and I knew he was on American soil. It was only a matter of time before I was able to smell and touch him again.  

I'm sure anyone who has spent time away from someone they love will always speak about the little day to day things that many of us take for granted.  So today if you find yourself complaining about your husband's quirks, think about ABW.  Think about not having those little quirks that drive you crazy and how much you would miss them if he wasn't around.  Appreciate the moment.  Cherish the times.  Think about what others endure for us.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

De-Stressing the Stress

Today's healthy food recipe is inspired by A Stressful Day.

Ingredients:
A kid-friendly seafood restaurant
A VERY understanding husband or friend
A crappy camera phone to document your experience

Begin by ordering FANCY pre-dinner drinks.

A beer for your husband...
 

 ...a dragonfly mojito (in a classy beer mug)* for yourself.

While enjoying drinks and adult conversation, distract child with crayons and Star Wars Legos.
  

Savor every last calorie and bite of cedar plank salmon with shrimp and broccoli.

When finished, top off the night with a delicious soy chai from Starbucks.

Stress levels should wane within a few hours.
Enjoy!

*feel free to substitute wine, gin, vodka or really any alcoholic beverage in place of mojito

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

My Stalker is Afraid of Me

I’ve had my share of running encounters over the years.  I’ve had firecrackers thrown at me from some rebellious teens. 
 I’ve been hit in the back of the head by a bat.  Not the baseball kind, the gross kind.


I’ve had a dog scare the crap out of me, befriend me and then tag along with me all the way home.




I’ve even witnessed a gas station burglary.

Okay, so there wasn’t a gun, but he was wearing a ski mask – SCARY…just pretend you didn’t read that Mom!


Then there was that recent “Attack of the Gnats” episode.














Occasionally I’ll get a honk (because I would like to think I look good but) probably because the driver thinks I should get the blankety blank off the road.

But one thing that remains constant is my daily run-ins with my stalker, Crazy Legs. Technically, I guess I can’t really call him a stalker since I think he’s afraid of me, but if I had a stalker, I would picture him to look like Crazy Legs.

This man I call Crazy Legs runs through my neighborhood and I often see him if I’m out early enough. He’s an odd man with an unusual running style. I would say he’s somewhat of a cross between Gene Wilder from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Shaggy from Scooby Doo. It’s actually his hair that looks crazy, but his gangly appearance coupled with his very awkward run / speed-walk style gallop makes the name Crazy Legs even more fitting.

Whenever I see him approaching, he quickly dashes to the other side of the street to avoid me.  My guess is that he lacks social skills because I refuse to believe I look THAT scary when I’m all sweaty and very raw-looking.



This morning, I ran hill repeats. To properly run these, you start by finding a GIGANTIC hill. Then, when you reach the top, you run back down and repeat this series six times. You finish it all off with a 30-minute cool down. Let’s just say I’d rather eat sardines over a plate of chopped liver, but it makes me a stronger runner and that’s why I do it.

So I geared myself up by setting my iPod to some blood-pumping music like Bring To Life by Effervescence Evanescence and then I sprinted up the last 50 meters of the hill. 

When I made my way down, there he was! Crazy Legs was approaching me in the distance.














I reached the bottom of the hill and before we could sharply collide, I turned around for my next ascent. Oh GREAT!  Now Crazy Legs thinks I’m running away from him!  I continued upward, reached the top of what seemed like Mt. Effervescence Everest, I GASPED, HUFFFED and PUFFED and made my way back down again.
 
And that’s when I realized my so-called stalker is afraid of me. Instead of chasing me down, like any crazy stalker would, Crazy Legs was running the opposite direction, away from me.


I was all ready to use my best Karate Kid moves on him too! 
 












But Crazy Legs was gone before I had a chance to say “Wax On, Wax Off”.

Alas, perhaps one day I’ll meet my so-called stalker. Who knows, he might just be a brilliant man with a charming and *effervescent personality. But until then, I think should change his name to ______. What do you think?

p.s. I’m a runner, not an illustrator…don’t hate.

p.p.s.  I put my game face on this week for the Dons over at Word Up Yo

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Kudos to Liz, Natalie and KLZ for making us step up our WOW game.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

You Inspire Me - Week 1

Sunday is a good day for inspiration.  It's a day to reflect on the past week and to prepare for the days ahead.  With that in mind, I've decided Sunday is an excellent day to write about a person that inspires me.

I got this idea from Lula Lola's post last week about the person she most admires.  What an excellent idea!  So with that in mind, I thought my first post should be about a very special woman - my mother.

This is why she inspires me.

She is very patient and forgiving.   I wasn't exactly the sweetest of girls growing up.  I was a typical snot, if you will.  I talked back, rolled my eyes, disobeyed and disrespected.  I'm not sure I could have dealt with me as gently as she did.  Yet, she has always been forgiving of my flaws and was patient enough to know I would eventually grow out of it.   I'm so thankful she did and so grateful for the relationship we have today.   

She has a very GREEN THUMB. My mother has plants throughout her house and grows the most beautiful flower beds each summer.  I'm convinced her garden grows if she simply looks at it.   A few years ago, I noticed the most gorgeous plant, in full bloom in her living room.  She told me the plant was a gift she received when one of my sisters was in 9th grade.  My sister is now 43 years old!  A-maz-ing! 

She is very accepting.   When I married Cedric, she not only welcomed a man with obvious differences and what some would label as baggage, she fully accepted everything about him, including his child.  Keelan officially took over the reigns as her oldest grandchild when he was 8-years old.  There is no such term as a 'step' child or 'step grandchild'.  She treats him no differently and fully embraces him with the same love as her ten other grandchildren.  I continue to be so honored by this act of love.

She is selfless and humble.   We recently took a trip to a local museum, when a bright-eyed little girl suddenly came running up to my mother to give her huge hug.  I had no idea who the girl was but I could tell she meant a lot to mother by the tears that welled up in her eyes.  She later went on to tell me that she was one of the girls she spent some time with the past school year while volunteering at a grade school, reading to children with special needs.  I had no idea she did this.

She goes out of her way for people.  Making others happy is what make my mother happy.  When we visit, she will make me a special meal because I'm selective in my food choices.  She will whip up a batch of chocolate chip muffins in an instant if my boys ask for them.  When she visits us, she will clean for us...because she wants to! She never forgets a single birthday or anniversary for anyone and always sends a card that arrives EARLY.   She prays a lot for others and never asks for anything in return.

She kept everything from my childhood.  On our recent visit home to visit my parents, she brought an old box and asked if there was anything I wanted to take with me.  Inside the box was project after project that I completed throughout my years in school.  She kept everything from parent-teacher notes to programs from my piano recitals.  There were school pictures that I'd rather forget were taken and papers I don't even remember writing.  But there it was, a collective memory saved just for me.  It inspired me to be better at doing this for my kids.

She's very active.  I guess maybe that is where I got my active gene, but my mother has more energy than a room full of toddlers.  She's 69-years old and will still make snowmen in the winter and take trips to the park with her grandchildren in the summer.   She walks daily to stay active and fit and has more friends than I could ever imagine to have.  I know if I haven't heard from her in a few days, she and my dad are traveling somewhere or spending time having dinner with friends.  She still shovels snows, scrubs the floor without a mop, and can sew just about anything she sets has in mind.   With any down time left, she will challenge my dad to a bowling game that they play together on their Wii, which is simply hysterical to watch. 

She always see the goodness in everyone.  I cannot recall EVER hearing my mother say a bad thing about anyone.  If a person is flawed, she'll find some goodness and will seek the best in anyone.  Imagine if we could all have a little of this trait!

She reads my blog!   I know this would scare a lot of people, but I have nothing bad to say about her.  So if you're reading...I love you Mom!

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