Monday, February 8, 2016

a tangent

Today I was eating lunch, listening to Pandora when this song came on:

Hang on, just hang on for a minute
I've got something to say
I'm not asking you to move on or forget it
But these are better days
To be wrong all along and admit is not amazing grace
But to be loved like a song you remember
Even when you've changed


Tell me did I go on a tangent?
Did I lie through my teeth?
Did I cause you to stumble on your feet?
Did I bring shame on my family?
Did it show when I was weak?
Whatever you seen, that wasn't me
That wasn't me, that wasn't me


When you're lost you will toss every lucky coin you'll ever trust
And you'll hide from your god like he ever turns his back on us
And you'll fall all the way to the bottom and land on your own knife
And you'll learn who you are even if it doesn't take your life


Tell me did I go on a tangent?
Did I lie through my teeth?
Did I cause you to stumble on your feet?
Did I bring shame on my family?
Did it show when I was weak?
Whatever you seen, that wasn't me
That wasn't me, that wasn't me


But I want you to know that you'll never be alone
I wanna believe do I make myself a blessing to everyone I meet
When you fall I will get you on your feet
Do I spend time with my family?
Did it show when I was weak?
When that's what you see, that will be me
That will be me, that will be me
That will be me

 ~"That Wasn't Me" by Brandi Carlile

I sat there at our kitchen table, tears streaming down my cheeks. And Holden came up with the most concerned look in his eyes and gave me a kiss. And my mom emailed me after reading yesterday's blog and said, "Count your blessings, not your mistakes. You are loved by all of your family, count that as a huge blessing!"

Thank you to everyone who loves me even when I go on a tangent. And for lifting me up when I'm in the depths of great despair. For family and my husband, who are the best examples of unconditional love.

I thought about something I wrote the day after my college pregnancy became public knowledge:

I know if I made 
it through yesterday
I can make it through today. 
And although life doesn't get easier; 
I learn to adapt.  
~1.19.2005

And if there's one thing I know, it's that that is true.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

this damn elephant

I'm pushing an elephant up the stairs
~"The Great Beyond" by R.E.M.

Steve was playing this song in the car the other day and I just sat there, listening to the lyrics, swallowing a lump in my throat. Because that is how I feel - I am pushing an elephant. I am the pusher and the elephant is my baggage and it seems like there is no top of the stairs. I am constantly overwhelmed and under-equipped. Am I pushing the elephant up, or is it pushing me back down, really?

Just when I think I'm making progress, I take a step back. How do people live with shame and guilt? Is there any recovery from bad choices? Or does abnormality become the new normal?

I remember being a freshman in college, before bad choices had been made. I remember bragging that I rarely cried. Now if only I could make it through a week without crying. Or hell, even a day. This damn elephant of mine.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

less is more

The cleanse has ended! OK, it was supposed to go through today, but Steve and I had a babysitter for last night and every parent knows you never, and I mean NEVER say "no" to a free babysitter. Never.

Last week Steve and I discussed where we would eat, then he made reservations and we salivated over the menu. And we counted down - "four days until Johnny's" then three, then two. We would also send each other texts throughout the day about how fucking stoked we were for this meal.

That is the first lesson this cleanse has taught me: making something a treat makes it so much more enjoyable. When it is no longer a daily occurrence, you appreciate it so much more. Also, anticipation is half of the fun. My marathon training book said never take your rest day spontaneously - half the beauty of it is the anticipation of it. Same is true of food, I now know.

The meal was fantastic. I delighted in the bread. Of course I did. I had looked forward to that more than anything else. But I ordered a coffee cocktail - the same one I had had pre-cleanse and thought was delicious, but this time I didn't find it so delicious. Maybe the bartender made it wrong, or maybe, just maybe, my taste buds are changing. I had chicken parm, but it was covered in a mozzarella cheese layer which I removed. I can't believe I used to eat that much cheese. This time when I saw it, all I could think was, "artery clogger."

I ate the whole damn meal. I have never finished my meal there, but yesterday, I did. I was famished for all I had missed. Steve didn't offer me any of his like he usually does, and he even cut into mine. We were oh so hungry. 

The next lesson the cleanse taught me is to lay off the caffeine. The fact that the withdrawal was so rough for me shows me exactly how addicted I was. I have decided to only have coffee no more than every other day. I don't want to get to a daily dependence again. I don't want to go through that withdrawal ever again. It felt like a scene from "Trainspotting" - and everyone knows there is no desirable scene in "Trainspotting."

At the coffee shop today, I had another barista make me a flavored latte. This was a trifecta of cleanse no-nos: dairy, sugar, and caffeine. The first sip was good. But each sip after got progressively worse. I couldn't finish it. It was too sweet. It didn't make me feel better. In fact, about an hour afterward, I got a headache. I took a picture of what it looked like after it settled:

How disgusting is that? How was I putting that into my body on a daily basis? That dairy! I think dairy is what I am now the most turned off by. I had a Chipotle burrito today, but held the cheese. I kept sour cream though, which has always been a love of mine. But the sour cream tasted so sour. This time, it didn't add to the burrito, but rather seemed a distraction from the fresh and good-for-you ingredients. Which I guess is what unhealthy food is, when you think about it. We just get to the point where we douse everything in so much bad-for-you stuff that soon there is barely any good-for-you, if any at all.

I am returning to my life of eating foods I enjoy, but now I am so much more aware of what I am putting into my body and how it affects me. So the cleanse was a good experience. It was eye-opening, a real test of endurance, and best of all: cleansing. I am excited to continue trying new recipes that are better for me, and to keep modifying recipes we used to eat to be better for us. Much less butter, much less cheese. And sugar - less is more. That is, less makes you appreciate it more. And really, the appreciation and anticipation of food is half the experience.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

halfway point

I have shown a few people the first twenty pages of the novel I'm writing. One of these friends in particular did me a real solid this week and texted me some writing inspiration tips. She told me I have an amazing book on my hands and she can't wait to read more. She knew I was slacking - that everything else was coming before writing. I knew it too, I just hadn't been reminded of it.

So with this reminder staring at me, I sat down yesterday and wrote. I don't need to think about how much I have left to finish. This is much like my marathon training: a little each day - building my base. The perfection and editing will come later. What matters now is that I'm still in it - that I'm developing the characters and the plot. And mostly, that I'm not giving up. So today, I wrote again. Just like I make it a habit to run each day, I will try to prioritize writing in the same manner.

And today, as I wrote, I felt something again. I had a lump in my throat as I wrote, and I realized these words, this story, has been struggling to get out of me - to breathe its own air, to develop its own voice. So I must let it. The lump developed into tears rolling down my cheeks and I realized this story is greater than me. And also, that despite the fact that I don't have a publisher or a book deal, I am a writer. This is what I was meant to do.

And then, I checked the word count. I'm at 40,000 - which is roughly the halfway point. I have made half of a novel. Or a novella, whichever way you prefer to look at it. I am a writer. At least, I am halfway there.

Friday, January 29, 2016

January love list

It's been awhile since I've blogged about what I'm into lately, but I think I'll get back into the habit. If I'm honest, this isn't some thought that just came to me. Rather, it was inspired, as most thoughts are. If you've watched Below Deck, no doubt you too have a deep appreciation for Kate Chastain. How could you not? She's witty and smart and sarcastic and has just the right amount of "no bullshit"ness. Well, I came across her blog in my internet stalking and she writes a "love list," so in my quest to become the Kate Chastain of land, I will too.

 
So of course Kate, you will be the first entry on my love list, for all the reasons I gushed about above.
And these sports bras will be a close second. If you run and have boobs, you know there is almost no sports bra that supports you and holds you in during high impact workouts. Well this Champion C9 sports bra from Target does it all. I bought three of them, and bonus: they were on clearance for only $6.88!

I found this 5 year diary at Powell's books over Thanksgiving vacation, then came home and found it online through Amazon at half price. This is the ideal diary - you only write about a paragraph each day and as the years go on, you will see your entries from the same day the previous years. I'm in love with it. And I have been able to write something every day for the past month - it's easy when it's only a paragraph.
These leaf earrings from Magnolia Market. I am always getting compliments on them. And the best part? They're made out of leather. At the risk of sounding smutty, I love leather.
Brandi Carlile Pandora radio station. It is everything. I don't even love Brandi Carlile that much, but I love her Pandora station. Bravo. You're an alright singer but an excellent deejay.
Social Print Studio. I am constantly finding excuses to get them to print more stuff for me. This is my most recent purchase: a poster with 96 of my favorite Instagram posts from 2015. It perfectly documents our year and I plan to make one each year and hang them on our stairwell. This company has also printed my Christmas cards, a day calendar for my mom, adorable miniprints and undoubtedly much, much more as I convince Steve of their necessity.

Alright, now I must change into a Champion sports bra and run. This marathon ain't gonna run itself, unfortunately (but if that's an option, let's set up a meeting, marathon).

Thursday, January 28, 2016

what the hell did we eat?

The cleanse is winding down and I am relishing in the fact that I will be back to normal soon, eating as I wish, but hopefully also what my body needs. But make no qualms, I will definitely eat as I wish, most of the time sometimes. Eating with restrictions is tough. It's possible, but it is tough. And food is therapy when things get tough.

But as one of my final cleanse posts, I will recount the top ten foods that got me through this cleanse:


1. Discovering corn products are gluten-free was a life-saver (now that is a "duh" but at the beginning of this, "gluten-free" was like words from a foreign language to me). I ate this popcorn a lot. I mean, we bought 3+ bags a week.
2. Mandarins were something quick to grab on my way out the door, but by no means quick to eat. Still, fruit is nature's candy, so because I couldn't eat candy, I ate fruit.
3. These snapea crisps were so delicious at first, but they got a bit old towards the end. But it's something that's allowed, so there's that.
4. I sliced cucumbers and celery to snack on. And we ate lots and lots of apples.
5. Raisins were another of my naturally sweet munchies. I mean, look at the sugar content on those suckers! Nature's candy, indeed. 
6. Oh Cheerios. Thank you for saving me from oatmeal. I just couldn't do oatmeal for one more day. If you ever look at the nutrition facts on cereals, I bet you Cheerios will beat them all in terms of being better for you. Yes, it's better than Kashi or that other "good for you" crap. A tried and true classic. 
7. I juiced a lot. Every day that I worked I left home with a smoothie. I also made smoothies in between meals because I was always hungry at first. Juicing is tough with fresh produce because it goes bad so fast, so I froze a bag of spinach and a bag of kale. Then I bought the frozen berry blend and mixed it together. It's not a beautiful color, but it was drinkable. And there's no other way I'm going to get my kale and spinach in, that's for sure.
8. This is the gluten-free pasta Steve picked up that tasted so much better than the crap I bought. Sure, technically, it might not have been cleanse-approved because it contains mono- and diglycerides, but dear god, we must eat something! This felt almost like an indulgence after eating that plain brown rice pasta.
9. Speaking of brown rice: in it's original form, it's not bad. Brown rice was used at almost every dinner. It was the star of our cleanse show, and somehow, Steve still isn't sick of it.
10. Corn. The savior of the cleanse. I can't tell you how many times we made tacos with (of course) brown rice and beans and veggies. When in doubt, make tacos. It feels like a real meal, even though it's missing the best parts of tacos - beef and cheese and sour cream.

I'm ready for beef and cheese and sour cream. And cupcakes and coffee and pasta made from wheat. And bread. And sushi and even beer, which I don't even really care for that much. And maybe, just maybe, I'll allow a couple of these things to hang around, too. After all, I have grown quite fond of a few of them after all this time. Or maybe I've just forgotten how good the other foods taste.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

impulsive, delusional

I am so done with adding kids to this family. I'm over it. This baby-making shop is closed.

But then. 

We went to the children's museum. We go to the children's museum, a lot, actually. So much, in fact, that it serves as a reminder of certain stages of my boys' lives; a barometer of how much they've grown and evolved.

Like just today, Brandon climbed to the top of this jungle gym thing, maybe eight feet in the air and he called down from the top in triumph. I thought about how last year he wouldn't even go down a slide without help and how he was scared of the dinosaur models.

And then at the water table, Holden was attempting to construct some water tubing and I remembered when he would stand there, his little potbelly propped up against the ledge because he could barely stand.

And I thought about how they will just keep getting bigger and bigger and more and more independent and then one day this would all be over. And how I would never live through these stages with another child again.

Maybe that is why people keep having children - to preserve a period of time by recreating it with someone new. And of course that is a slippery slope and not a particularly great idea for someone as admittedly average at parenting as I am.

But it is still a thought of mine. Because I am not a particularly rational person. I fall more into the category of "highly emotional," "impulsive" or perhaps even "delusional." So add that to the list of reasons this baby-making shop is closed.

And then, this afternoon, before I had a chance to set up an appointment with my ob/gyn, I came up with another idea of something to do. And just like that, the thought flitted away, to be filed under "impulsive" or "delusional," no doubt.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

rule of two

Have you heard of the rule of two? It's that your children will turn out to be twice as naughty as you were as a child. Oops. My childhood bad. 

My kids are so emotional and loud and tantrummy. I feel bad, because Steve, I'm sure, was a fantastic child. If he would have had kids with anyone else, they would have turned out as perfect little angels, no doubt. But right now, Holden is running around screaming at the top of his lungs and laughing because he is just so loud. And we all remember Brandon's library meltdown last week. Time hasn't healed that wound yet.

Is it bad that when we're out in public and another kid is loud or screamy, I smile? I am glad to know I'm not alone in this. I'm glad to know that not all kids are perfectly polite and well-behaved, because it makes me feel a little less like a failure. I do not believe in sedating my kids' organic personalities to fit what is easiest for me to deal with, but I do believe in public decency and respect. Even just getting that out of them sometimes is impossible.

But I brought this upon myself, really. If that rule of two is true. I could've been better. But thank god I wasn't even worse. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

tantrum in the library

One of my coffee shop customers also has two boys, her's four and six and today she told me she misses them when they were the age Brandon and Holden are now. I thanked her for the reminder - to live in the now, to idle and just be where I am wholeheartedly. I often find myself looking forward to their independence, to school years and sports. I am not a baby person. I never was, really. I used to joke that if I could have my kids start at age two, I would take it in a heartbeat.

So to say these past nearly four years have been trying on me is a massive understatement. If you know you're not something, then you're really not. Most people live blissfully unaware of their shortcomings, but when a shortcoming is so short that even you can see it, then, damn. Damn! I have looked forward to the end of bottles and diapers and onesies. I have always been looking to what is next, looking forward to "the good age" (this illusive age that I'm not sure ever occurs).

After the coffee shop, I picked up the boys and then hurried them off to the library for story and dance time. And it was there, in the library, armed with his attitude, that Brandon did the deed. He had the most explosive tantrum I have ever witnessed. He was screaming and crying, somehow simultaneously.  It was an impressive feat, really. I tried to shush him, which of course was useless. And then, mid-shushing, Holden started up. He must have figured if Brandon was screaming, there was something worth screaming about.

So I did the only thing I could, as a person with two kids that won't budge on their own: I grabbed each of them, then tucked them into my sides in the football hold. It was a real badass mother maneuver.  Having no free hands, I kicked the handicap button to open the doors for me. And then, no joke, a woman walked alongside me like a coach at a soccer game, saying, "you're doing good work here, mom! Even if no one else recognizes it, you're doing really important work!"

I thought about what my coffee shop customer said that morning and thought, certainly this isn't what she meant. No one misses these moments. But as I drove with two screaming kids, I sat there silently, not really upset or anything, just contemplating. I thought about the woman who sideline coached me and thought, yes, even these moments. That woman misses all of it. 

Here I am, right in the middle of what so many people want to have again or to have even once. The future will come inevitably. But these moments won't come again. At least, in the case of the library tantrum, let's hope it doesn't come again. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

ho hum

This cleanse is getting a bit drab. The novelty has worn off and it's feeling almost like an old habit. Which really is the whole point - to change my eating habits. But it's not fresh and exciting anymore. It's like the third year of marriage before babies - "yeah, we've done this. What's next?"

And everything tastes like corn.

I will say, I've noticed it gets easier, as really all things do when you stick with them. Last week was so tough for me not to pull into a drive-thru: it was a real battle of wills. But today I was driving around, during lunchtime no less, when I was hungry, and I just drove home to make a salad. It wasn't even a thought (OK, it was a thought, but I remembered my third year of this cleanse marriage).

I'm looking forward to the end - when I can eat my sugar and drink my caffeine and carbo load again, like the good ol' days. But I will not end this thing before it ends, because then I don't know that I will be any different. I keep reminding myself no one can get out of rehab in 10 days and this detox is like my rehab - my chance to quit bad habits and start again with habits that are good.

I have to give it time to change me. I have to linger where I am for a bit, where I need to be. 

I'm sure I will start my post-cleanse life by making amends with gluten. I'm sorry I ever left you. It was a mistake. I love you and I've missed you and I never want to leave you again.

Maybe it's not an "I love eggs" shirt I need, after all. I know now: gluten, it was always you.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Observations after one week


1. Weight loss. I am down 6.5 pounds in a week. The change is noticeable in my stomach and my face. I usually have a rather large belly bloat, and that has diminished quite a bit.

2. Clearer skin
I am a 32-year-old who still gets zits. I've always noticed that it is directly a result of what I eat - after I eat a lot of sugar or a greasy meal, I break out. Well this week, those previous zits disappeared and I do not have any new ones.

3. No longer tired all the time
We all know that I used to be tired all the time. I blame this on a job that requires rising at 5 a.m. and kids that require staying up until at least 9 p.m. But after the first three days (where I might have caught up on sleep due to the withdrawal headaches), I have gone to bed at consistent times and woken when I felt I got enough sleep. No more groggy mornings. I'm awake before the kids, reading or doing yoga on days I don't work.

4. I am trying new foods
I am non-adventurous with foods. I know what I like and I stick to it. But on this cleanse, with all those things I like no longer being options, I am eating new things. Like yesterday was my first time having sweet potatoes. Steve fried up some nice hashbrowns with them and they were delicious.

Also, Steve is a soup person. He loves soup. And we have one recipe that is tried and true so I always fall back on it - Pasta Fagoli (if you've had mine, you'll agree there is no need for any other soup). However, it has beef in it. So today I am finally making minestrone, which we've been claiming we would try for months now.

5. Exercise is easier
My marathon training has just started, so I am taking it pretty easy to start, but even with my five mile treadmill runs, I have noticed I have been able to go farther and faster with less breaks (the curse of the treadmill - the breaks). The other day I finished and I thought to myself, "I could do this all day."

6. I don't actually need caffeine
And here I thought that coffee each morning was a necessity. I make it through each morning just fine without it, now that the headaches are gone.

7. My mind is sharper
Now this is hard to gauge, but I have noticed I notice things I didn't before; I think in moments I used to zone out.

8. I'm at the grocery store a lot. 
Like, almost every day. But that is because I am making fresh meals at home out of real ingredients rather than grabbing something convenient. Our grocery bill has gone up, but our eating out is oh so much cheaper (we've just had Chipotle once).

9. I am more productive
I am constantly complaining there isn't enough time in the day to do everything I want to do between the kids and part-time work and housework and hobbies. But every day last week I was able to run and/or do yoga, read, and blog. I also took my kids to the children's museum, the zoo, daddy's work, and Fontenelle Forest (and don't forget the grocery store). On top of that, I cleaned the house, which we all know is not my specialty. So maybe there really is enough time in the day, if you spend most of it productively. That is, once your kids are no longer babies, of course. Mine are growing towards independence and I am used as a referee mostly.

10. I miss bread though.
A lot. At first it was the caffeine I missed the most, then sugar. But now, I find it is hearty, filling foods I miss rather than the feel-good, nutritionless ones. Hopefully this means I am training my body to want the foods it needs, which was the whole point of this cleanse to start with. I can't lose sight of that. I've got two weeks left. And then, Gandolfo's subs.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

weekend blues

We love the weekends around here. Our three year old triumphantly exclaims, "it's the weekend!" every Friday night when dad gets home from work. We eat the food we are craving, we drink a couple drinks, we make big breakfasts when we're both home. But on the cleanse, oh, on the cleanse. 

I thought I was over the hump and it would all be smooth sailing from here, but today I felt a bit blue that I had no indulgence food to eat. I know that sounds lame, but really, we have made food into so much more than food. Food is celebration: cake, grilling out, passing around homemade Christmas cookies, deviled eggs. We associate food with holidays and festivities. And no one is celebrating much with brown rice, beans, and veggies.


It would all be so much easier if food was only fuel for our bodies. If we could all just eat the foods our bodies need to perform well the way we putting gas in our cars, it would be different. But food is not so black and white. That's the problem: it's colorful and flavorful and full of so many different tastes that perfectly pair with different situations. Weekends, for example, are perfect for a little booze. I don't even drink often usually, but I find myself wanting a glass of wine tonight. I want to toast to Steve and I making it six days, but then we wouldn't make it to seven.

It's February 1st somewhere, isn't it?

Friday, January 15, 2016

just five days

Although the cleanse is 21 days, I have been thinking about it in shorter goals. My sister taught me her method of dealing with running hills: thirds. She picks a landmark a third of the way up, two thirds, then at the top, and just concentrates on making it to one landmark at a time. Breaking up a seemingly undaunting task makes it manageable, and concentrating on a part rather than the whole keeps you from getting overwhelmed.

With the cleanse, I have picked five days as my first landmark. Because in the marathon training book I'm reading it says, If you tend to eat an abundance of junk food, keep in mind that you only need a few days to change your food cravings. If you can replace your cream-filled pastries, white bread, and processed meats with fresh fruits and vegetables, rich whole grains,and lean meats and seafood for just a week or so, your craving for your old diet will disappear. You just have to make it through about 5 days. 

So I keep telling myself, just make it through five days. Will my longing for LeMar's donuts really disappear? That is unlikely, but I did drive around without any desire to pull into a drive-thru today. I just went to HyVee and loaded up on veggies and came home and made that delicious gluten-free pasta salad I've been thinking about.  So at least we're moving in the right direction. Of course, it helped that LeMar's was on the opposite side of town. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

yeast high

I'm here with some bright news - day 4 is the best cleanse day so far. Of course, first came a very rough day three. Last night the headache was brutal, I had no energy. For the first time, I didn't run. I couldn't even fathom having that kind of gumption. I couldn't even lie around on the couch watching TV shows. I just went to bed again, like Monday.

Then today was my first cleanse day at work. Obviously, I don't work a traditional 40-hour week job like most people. And that is both good and bad. But for the cleanse, it's bad. Because I am at home, surrounded by tempting foods I can't eat, and I have the option to load up the kids and drive to get whatever I want whenever I want that I am constantly battling. But at work, there are restrictions. I must stay there. So I packed up way more food than could possibly be necessary for a 4 1/2 hour shift - celery, cucumbers, the smoothie I juiced, Cheerios, a Cutie, and those snap pea crisps. And I ate it all.

I told you, I am always eating. If I'm not eating, I'm thinking about eating. Luckily, I work with a vegan who told me I am doing everything the hard way and gave me all kinds of ideas. In fact, right now I am crafting in my head a delicious vegan pasta salad to eat for lunches next week. I told you: if ever I'm not eating, I'm thinking about eating. Oh yeah - pasta. Steve found a gluten-free type that doesn't taste like cardboard that actually feels like a bit of an indulgence. And apparently white rice is OK. So there will definitely be a Chipotle run in our weekend.

But yeah, last night was rough. Steve made some garlic bread for the boys and I wanted so badly to shove the whole loaf in my mouth. Who would think it would be bread I would crave the most? I want a philly cheesesteak or a Gandolfo's sub. I drove by the Rotella's factory today and I seriously considered living in their parking lot for the next 17 1/2 days - smelling that dough rising is about as good as it gets for me right now. I think I'm still high on it, actually.