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Sunday thoughts

25 Mar

It is 10:30 in the morning, and my day is off to an exceptionally wonderful start. I hopped out of bed at 8:00 ready to run — literally — which is a good thing, since I have my second 5K in two weeks. By 8:30, I was out the door. Since I’ve been slacking off with training, I decided to enlist the help of my Couch to 5K app and did Week 4. I am not ashamed to admit that it totally kicked my butt. I am out of shape, but pushing myself this morning felt wonderful.

Afterward, I stopped by the apartment to grab my market bag, some moolah, and a warmer shirt and then headed back out on foot. I needed to make a detour to break a large bill, so I grabbed some lavender tea at Groundwork:

Groundwork is about half a mile from home, and it has sensational coffee, sandwiches, and looseleaf teas. However, I tend to find the service unfriendly at best. Today was a nice surprise, though. The guy was very nice and accommodating. Today was my first tango with their hot teas. They give you the hot water, and then you go scoop your own choice of a dozen or more looseleaf varieties into little bags. It was fun and oh so tasty. I almost mixed my lavender with Earl Grey, probably my favorite combo, but I plan to make coffee later, so I wanted to limit my caffeine. Next time, though!

After that, I headed straight to the Hollywood Farmers Market. Today is far from an example of a perfect, sunny SoCal day:

But there’s something about the moodiness in the sky that makes me feel happy, vibrant, and alive. It is just cool enough out for a bit of bite in the air, but not enough that I was uncomfortable in my running clothes. Plus, I love walking the longer-time Angelenos in their coats, scarves, and hats when I’m wearing crops and a tech shirt.

There is so much beauty around us every day, and it can be so hard to see it, but I can’t help but find the joy in little discoveries:

Yes, on the same street where these bloom, all full of fire and delicate strength, it’s normal to smell a little human urine. And yes, two blocks up is the hustle and bustle and weird commercialization that is Hollywood Boulevard. But today, today I feel centered on enjoying what is around me, even in the big, scary, dirty city.

Do you spy the sign in the distance? That’s the view from the end of my street.

Today I want to breathe in life and breathe out negativity. Today is a new beginning. Today I stop to smell the roses.

Today I celebrate a month of marriage with the greatest guy in the world. Happy Onemonthiversary, baby!

I’m not dieting for my wedding

16 Feb

By the time I get married next week (!!), I will have had a five-week engagement, which is very, very short, obviously. But, then, so am I, so it only makes sense.

Anyway, I quickly dove into the world of wedding planning sites (and quickly got overwhelmed, then scared). One theme I’ve noticed pretty strongly is that brides want to lose weight. Not only do they want to, but they expect to and go so far as to plan their attire around the new weight they expect to hit. I can understand the draw, especially with the strapless dresses most want to rock on their big days. If you’re overweight and your wedding day is the motivation you need to get into a healthy routine, then I applaud you.

However, the obsession with bridal body image frankly disturbs me. My wedding day is supposed to be a celebration of the love I share with my fiancé. It is an opportunity to gather our closest family in our new home for a happy occasion. It’s also a time to help us outfit our kitchen. (I tease on the last one.) It is not a time to scrutinize my arms or my hips. It’s not a time to be on display. It’s a time to laugh and cry and hug and make joyful new memories. Yes, there will be a photographer, but his lens will be focusing on our smiles and tears, not our saddlebags.

Fact: I am currently about five pounds heavier than normal, which is in turn five pounds heavier than my ideal weight. I want to lose that full 10 pounds by eating well and getting back to the gym.

That said, I have decided not to lose an ounce for my wedding. Why? For all the things I said about what a wedding is. A wedding isn’t a pageant. It isn’t a modeling competition. It is a celebration of love and happiness. It is the last day on which I should be worried about whether or not anyone is judging me. If they are, then they can take a hike (but leave the blender, please).

It’s also for my sanity. Theoretically, I could lose those five extra pounds in five weeks, but at what reward? There is no chance I won’t feel radiant on my wedding day. How could I not, when I’m surrounded by the people I love most in the world, including the man who is going to promise to love me for the rest of my life? Losing five pounds or 50 doesn’t increase or decrease the love in your life. Obsessing over weight loss (something at which, frankly, most people fail) will not make your wedding day better.

I spend so much of my daily life thinking and worrying about my weight that I want my wedding to be a break from it, a day on which I’m grateful to be exactly the way I am.

It goes without saying that this is all just my opinion, and maybe your experience is totally different, but I wanted to give voice to another perspective.

Ack!

13 Feb

I started to write a post about some recent eats, including today’s burger and some freebies during a training last week.

I thought about writing a post detailing the food I’m thinking of making for my upcoming reception/house-warming party.

I was even mulling a post about weddings and body image.

But then I saw the most horrifyingly disgusting thing ever to wander into my office and had the following exchange:

I apologize for the language, but can you blame me? The thing was three inches long, had scary wings, and I swear I saw him smoking a tiny cigar and twirling his mustache. Ew ew ew!

I’ll send some food action your way tomorrow, but today — today I can’t think about putting anything in my mouth. So how’s about I ask a question instead.

When you find an unwelcome disgusting vermin visitor in your home, what do you do? Kill it, release it outside, or pretend it isn’t there? I generally catch-and-release or put my fingers in my ears and go LA LA LA. However, I won’t lie: I hope this cockroach bites it. I just don’t want to be the person doing the slaughtering.

Naked Face Project

1 Feb


Starting today, Caitlin over at Healthy Tipping Point is embarking on a 60-day adventure she’s calling the Naked Face Project. Here’s what she said about it:

For the next 60 days, Molly and I will give up all traditional feminine Beauty Habits – including wearing any makeup, removing any body hair, altering our hair from its natural state (dying, curling, straightening), wearing uncomfortable feminine clothing (high heels, tight skirts), wearing jewelry (with the exception of wedding bands), painting our nails, using anti-wrinkle or anti-acne lotions, wearing deodorant, or styling or cutting our hair for reasons other than function.  We plan to blow dry our hair (because it’s the winter), brush our teeth, wear sunscreen, and dress appropriately – but comfortably – for the occasion.

Why?

Molly and I simply want to live in our own space of natural beauty and be more intentional in our actions.

I wanted to show my solidarity today by posting a picture of myself sans makeup and with my hair still wet. Here’s me at 8:15 yesterday morning:

While I didn’t heed Caitlin’s entire call — I am wearing my usual clothes, and I absentmindedly shaved my underarms this morning — in truth, going without makeup is the most difficult part of the routine to break, even though I really only wear concealer and mascara on a normal day. Mr. X can attest to the fact that I don’t exactly shave on a daily basis .

Is anyone else joining Caitlin and Molly in their experiment? How important are feminine grooming habits to you?

I tried years ago to eliminate a lot of the ones I think are truly sexist — shaving especially — but between new relationships and the work world, I’m pretty well settled back into my routine. While I don’t think it’s essential for me to quit using the razor or wearing uncomfortable shoes in order to be a true feminist, it is important to evaluate the reason we make the choices we do and be aware that they are, in fact, choices.

Goals revisited and renewed

31 Jan

Today is the end of January, so I wanted to take a moment to explore the six goals I set out for myself.

1. a. Cook dinner at home three days a week every week in January. I can claim success on this one! Both my wallet and my waistline thank me, though I need to keep pushing myself even harder.

1. b. Make something just for me. I am counting this week’s muffins as part of this goal, though I really do want to start crafting again. I need to get my stuff all set up.

2. a. Go to the Clippers/Thunder game on January 30. We went last night!

It was a really fun game, and as things in LA go, it was a pretty inexpensive date night that we’ll be doing again.

2. b. Register for a triathlon. I failed at this one, but I’m giving myself a pass. As much as I wanted to be in shape for a March 10 triathlon, I just wouldn’t be. So I’m setting my sights on finding another one. I really do want to tackle a tri in 2012!

3. a. Contact an animal charity about becoming a volunteer. I sent out inquiries over the weekend and am waiting to hear back.

3. b. Call a friend just to chat. I called a friend not once but twice just to chat! And you know what? I loved it. I need to keep remembering how nice it is to reconnect with people I love.

Now it’s time to plan for February! It’s going to be a busy month (hello wedding!), but here are my six goals:

1. a. Bring lunch from home four days a week every week in February.

1. b. Craft something — anything!

2. a. Use my 7-day YMCA pass and then join, if we want.

2. b. Check out a new-to-me music venue.

3. a. Volunteer for a day somewhere.

3. b. Call two friends just to chat.

From a miss . . .

23 Jan

And in a second, everything changes.

You go from a girlfriend to a fiancee.

Yep, this gorgeous guy will make me the luckiest lady in the world in a month! Here we are overlooking the place where we’re getting married. Oh my goodness!

I had high hopes for 2012; now they are soaring even farther than I could have imagined.

Food posts to resume tomorrow.

The reason behind the reason

18 Jan

Everyone who makes healthy choices does it for a reason. If you ask me why I’m a vegetarian or don’t smoke, I can give you several: Because I don’t want to buy larger clothes. Because I don’t want to smell bad. Because meat and tobacco are migraine triggers.

Those are the easy answers, and they’re true, but they’re far from the only reasons. There are others that are deeper and far more difficult to chat about on a coffee break. I call these the reasons behind the reasons. Want an example?

When I was 19, my stepmother died, leaving my brother and sister — then 8 and 5, respectively — without a mommy. She was in her 40s. It wasn’t a freak accident involving a bus; it wasn’t a stray bullet from a robbery; it was cancer — lung cancer — something she could have prevented if she’d chosen not to smoke.

My stepmother, Kate, and I were friendly, though our relationship was far from perfect. She married my dad two years after my parents’ divorce. Honestly, though my parents’ marriage dissolved when it did partly because of her, I never resented Kate. I fully believe my mom and dad would have split at another time because they just weren’t happy; she was only a catalyst for the timing. Even at 9, when it felt like my world was ending, I didn’t blame her. I liked her. Our relationship only became strained when my dad’s child support payments put stress on their budget. I know she didn’t mean to make me feel bad, but I was an observant kid, and I knew what was happening. Still, it was an obligation that he had, and she knew that. She was the adult. There were a couple of difficult years, but I knew we were friends. She was a cool, smart, interesting lady, and I was glad my dad was happy.

When she brought my brother and sister — who, as you can tell now, are actually my half-siblings, but I never think of them as anything less than fully mine — into the world, I was ecstatic. I always wanted siblings, and I’ve never stopped being grateful for them a day in my life.

But Kate — like both of my parents — was a smoker. She smoked during her pregnancies, and she smoked in the home when they were growing up. Though I was raised with a mother and father who smoked everywhere and a lot, I never liked the smell of the stuff, and I always knew I’d never take up tobacco myself.

I went off to college two weeks before my 18th birthday. My dad forgot to call me that day, and I was angry. I was 1,400 miles from home and had just spent the most monumental birthday of my life surrounded by people I didn’t know and without a phone call from one of my parents. I called the next day to rip into him, tell him how hurt I was, but I was stopped in my fury by his news that Kate had been diagnosed with small cell carcinoma. Cancer. In her lungs. They were optimistic about treatments, but it was going to be a tough fight. It was one of the worst phone calls of my life.

Over the next six months, she underwent treatments. She was allergic to the chemo drugs, so they gave her huge injections of Benadryl as well, which caused her to be tired all the time. My siblings were 6 and 3 when it all started. The doctors declared that all the cancer was gone, with the disclaimer that it could recur. And it did, maybe a year later. It was in her brain and on her spine this time. She started treatments again, and almost simultaneously, my dad’s best friend was diagnosed, too. In April, he lost his short, awful battle. Six weeks later, on June 4, 2004, Kate finally gave into hers. The tumor on her spine was too large, and it collapsed her cervical vertebra. It was unexpected.

The suffering was over for her, but that day began a long, painful period for my family. Though I still have my mother — and I’m grateful every day for her — it was such a terrible loss for me, and truthfully, I had no idea how to grieve. My father was destroyed. She was the love of his life, and he had watched her die. He had instantly become a single parent to my tiny siblings, my brother who could never really articulate what he was going through, and my sister who was clearly showing signs of autism. I was sad for what I lost, but equally sad for the three people I loved so much. Even more, I was angry — beyond angry. How could she do something so selfish to her children, two small, helpless creatures that needed her? I talked about transferring to a local university so I could be there for my family. I battled the worst bout of depression of my life all the while feeling guilty for not being stronger for them. Again, I was 19.

We all process pain in different ways. Some of us are practical; some are emotional. I’m definitely the latter. My depression included a lot of disordered eating, which I’ve discussed here before, in addition to other psychologically harmful behaviors. Basically, I didn’t treat myself well. I know now that I was trying to make sure I didn’t stop suffering. It was an ugly spiral.

I didn’t fully recover from the cycle until after college. There wasn’t an Aha! moment or anything like that. It was a process. It was me learning to like who I am and respect the journey that had created me. It was also research on nutrition and health that slowly sank in. I finally realized that the combination of anger and sadness I felt would never fully disappear, but there was something I could do: I could prevent my siblings from going through the same thing again.

I am not their mother. I never try to replace their mother. In some ways, I’m something better than that. I’m their big sister. I’m not there when they misbehave, and I never have to punish them. I love them unconditionally, and they know that. Our entire relationship is built around being happy together and having fun. They look up to me, and I look out for them. I would do absolutely anything in the entire world for them, and they know that.

So when I think about making unhealthy choices, I think about Kate and her legacy. I think about how, despite the fact that she was a funny, fascinating person, she was also flawed in a way that took her from us far too early. I think about preventing cancer and other diseases that will kill me before my time. I think of my brother and sister, their beautiful faces, and how important we are to each other. And now that I’m nearing the years of childbearing, I think of my future children, how I want to be nothing less than always there for them. In a just world, we all outlive our parents, but my responsibility is to be there for them for as long as I can.

For me, life is the reason behind the reason.

One year

13 Jan


Three plays.

Two cities.

Thousands of texts.

A million reasons why it shouldn’t work.

But it does.

Thank you for loving me.

Going with the flow

10 Jan

The cooking plan I posted about yesterday hasn’t 100% gone without a hitch. Things like this honestly tend to bother me. I’m a planner and a perfectionist, so it annoys me when what I anticipate isn’t a reality. Another problem I tend to have is over-scheduling — expecting too much from myself — which only leads to failure, and, in turn, feeds a cycle of disappointment in myself. I’ve recently started trying to set realistic goals and expectations of myself and to try to cut myself some slack. So here’s how the meal-prep schedule has gone in reality:

Sunday: day — make quinoa soup in the slow cooker; night — soak pinto beans (for taco salad)
Monday: day — X makes pinto beans on the stove; night — soak black beans soak pinto beans because the first batch didn’t make enough
Tuesday: day — make black beans in the slow cooker and soak chickpeas cook pinto beans on the stove and forget to soak black beans and chickpeas so send X a frantic text to soak them before he leaves for the set; night — cook chickpeas and black beans on the stove
Wednesday: day — make chili (containing chickpeas and black beans) in the slow cooker; night — cook zucchini and make cilantro spread (for wraps)

Though I didn’t follow my own instructions to a T, laying out a plan did help me greatly in getting things together, so that’s a plus. I still intend to keep writing out the basic plan to keep myself on track each week.

On Sunday, I also had a goal of making a weekly cleaning schedule. I gave it some thought, but I never committed anything to paper. I still intend to complete the plan; however, it’s not something I need to do right now, so I’m going with the flow and trying to cut myself some slack.

I did make some good progress on my other goals, however. I:

  • Did yoga again — that’s twice in a week!
  • Made a (diabetic-friendly) meal plan and cooked a big pot of soup for my lunches and dinner Monday night. I should be able to eat homemade stuff every day this work week, though we may grab dinner out on Friday night anyway.
  • Scrubbed the stove and started thinking about a cleaning schedule.
  • Started taking steps to let go of a few things that tend to bring me down.

Pretty good progress so far! In the interest of staying on track, I’m going to tackle another thing I’ve been putting off this week:

9. Clear my name at the library. Time to square up. I want to start reading more again, and I can’t until I come clean.

I’ll be back later to share an easy, delicious taco salad “recipe.” I hope everyone’s having a great start to the week!

Sunday Funday

8 Jan

Good morning, everyone! Well, it’s still the a.m. here on the West Coast. I’m cozied up in bed watching the Giants (hopefully) defeat the Falcons with tea and my love. Perfect start to Sunday, no?

image

I have a fun post planned for this evening on making a day’s worth of meals with a sad, empty kitchen, but until football is done for the day, I am stuck blogging from my cranky cell.

In the meantime, here are my plans for the rest of the day:

1. Pick up lunch (we’re thinking Tender Greens or Mendocino Farms)
2. Unpack our DVDs
3. Clean the kitchen
4. Make a tentative weekly cleaning schedule
5. Hit the grocery store
6. Get started on meal prep for the week

I hope you’re all having a fabulous weekend, and I’ll see you again in a few hours!

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