Tag Archives: Family

A Happy Place

Sometimes, I go days and weeks without blogging. Sometimes, I check out for days or weeks or months. That’s just a reality of who I am. That’s the reality of living with a mental illness. Even when you’re managing it, sometimes you’re just not “managing.”

This time, I wasn’t particularly sad. It wasn’t a dark-dark-dark time. No, it was just…nothingness. I couldn’t get a grip on my day-to-day operations, and it made blogging seem like a mountain I just didn’t have the energy or equipment to climb. Insurmountable. So I took it easy on myself, and I worked to forgive myself for this and several other things I sacrificed for a few weeks. I celebrated lots of days without pressuring myself to do more than I was capable of.

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Today, I feel a little better. There’s that little spark of warmth in my gut telling me that brighter and stronger times are coming. Which is good. Because the days are soaring past, and I’m watching the calendar get closer to my two big races (1 & 2) of fall. I have a solid training plan set before me. I will move forward.

This morning’s run was humid, but that’s not atypical for this time of year. Still, it leaves me feeling pretty sweaty and gucky afterward. Even after a shower to cool off, I still sweat. And by the time I quit sweating, it’s time to go outside so I can climb in my stuffy car and start sweating again and go to work. Vicious cycle.

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Sweaty selfie. This iPhone camera was kind to me. I swear, I was drenched. 

This past weekend was spent in Duluth, which I have officially deemed my “happy place.” It’s a city I adore on a big ol’ lake I can’t ever stop staring at. Again this year, I failed to get a shoreline run in, but relaxation and sleeping in trumped it. No regrets. (Not many, at least.)

Other than that, life has been filled with the day-to-day minutia of summer. Two weeks from now, we will be with family on a houseboating trip. And then it’s August already. I know a lot of people ask the question, “Where does the time go?” But srsly.

I don’t have much of substance to leave you with. For my bookclub, though, we did read one of my favorite books in the history of the universe. And although I love it for the big, soul-warming laughs it gives me, I also have many quotes about mental health and mental illness underlined, starred, and dog-eared in my copy. I’ll leave you with one that stands out to me every time I read or listen to it (yes, I own the digital audiobook, too).

“Without the dark there isn’t light. Without the pain there is no relief. And I remind myself that I’m lucky to be able to feel such great sorrow, and also such great happiness. I can grab on to each moment of joy and live in those moments because I have seen the bright contrast from dark to light and back again. I am privileged to be able to recognize that the sound of laughter is a blessing and a song, and to realize that the bright hours spent with my family and friends are extraordinary treasures to be saved, because those same moments are a medicine, a balm. Those moments are a promise that life is worth fighting for, and that promise is what pulls me through when depression distorts reality and tries to convince me otherwise.”

-Jenny Lawson, Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things

Wishing you light.

SHOP

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WCT

I am slightly early for WCW, but I’ve been meaning to share this article for a while now. No time like the present! I’ve written about Mirna before, and I will likely be writing about her again. (She has a book coming out this fall, and you can be darn sure I already pre-ordered that puppy.) She just has such fabulous perspective and beautiful thoughts that I need to hear most every day. I need some sort of app on my phone where I press a button, and Mirna gives me some sort of sage advice or cheery pick-me-up. Can someone work on that?

But I say that, if you run and it is an important part of your life or fitness regime, be proud and share your success with others. You never know who is watching. Your child, your relatives, your coworkers…they might be the ones that need to witness that strength, focus and energy emanating from you so that, maybe one day, they can try running themselves.

This is something I need to keep in mind when I’m at my lowest. Because if I can’t muster the gumption to get moving for myself, I can certainly picture my kiddo playing dress-up with my running shoes so she can “be like Mommy.” I can remember that others in my life struggle, too, and I want them to believe there’s a reason to get up and get going, whether they are running or participating in another activity that makes them happy.

Speaking of getting going, yesterday officially kicked off my TLAM 13.1 Run/Walk plan!

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Trying to get more comfortable with this “sweaty selfie” thang

Although I’ve done these plans in the past and had to bow out (due to no fault of the plans, might I add…it was always injury or illness causing me to de-rail), I’m feeling really good at the start of this one. I feel like I’ve had time to recover, wallow, re-group, fall apart again, and heal. I feel organized and stronger mentally than I did at the start of my last attempt. This is going to be good.

The flowers are a bloomin’ in our yard as of late. And they provide a lovely “welcome home” to me when I finish a run.

I have no green thumb of which to speak, but the former occupants did a beautiful job of landscaping. Lucky us.

Also. I think you already know this, but I find my bear-dog adorable, albeit stinky. And I think she’s hilarious when she gets a treat. So I tried to capture the magical moment. I hope you appreciate it as much as I do. (Maybe not that much. Maybe it won’t be your phone background and maybe you won’t giggle every time you turn on your phone. But you could do that if you wanted.)

This week has also provided a slight reprieve from the usual morning hustle and bustle. Our wonderful daycare provider is taking a well-deserved family vacation. We easily found care for LJ between hubby, me, and my step-mother (AKA LJ’s favorite person in the world!). Her nina (a nickname LJ began calling her at a young age) is bearing the bulk of the days, and they are having fabulous adventures together. Me? I don’t have to worry about corralling LJ and getting her out the door for a few days. It doesn’t sound like a luxury, but oh, it is fantastic.

AND! They came to visit me at the library and brought me some treats. They enjoyed storytime together, and it was nice to see my baby mid-day.

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And now? I have some PiYo workouts to catch up on, a house to clean (psh…probably not happening), and some sleep to get (psh to this, too).

SHOP

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Ballerinas and Catsby and Wine-infused Coffee

And we meet again. On a Friday. Yay! Long weekend. Woo! Party time. Yeah!

Okay, that’s out of the way. This week was significantly less eventful on my end, and darnit, I like it that way. I still feel like I’m recovering from last week’s hustle and bustle.

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My baby had her first dance recitals this weekend. I was on stage with her (it was a “You & Me” class for caregivers and children, and though my role was minimal, I was still absolutely drained by the end of the weekend.

She did well, though. She smiled. She listened to me onstage (backstage was a different story). I guess that’s what matters. She loves to dance, and I think she’s going to be very good at it.

Other than that, the week has contained minimal excitement or activity. I’m re-framing my goals right now and really taking into consideration the things I need to do to achieve them.

Web-flavored Goodness

  • Sad news coming out of the running community. Gabe Proctor, a former NCAA champion, died by suicide last week. Nobody, regardless of their successes or kind heart or circumstances, is immune to depression and mental health issues. My thoughts have been with his family and friends.
  • I think I’ve referenced Mirna before in my blog. If I haven’t, I should have. Because this article made me say, “YUS, GIRL,” out loud as I was reading it.

“Lastly, I am beautiful. The entire running community is beautiful. And we determine that. Not you.”

  • Wine is good for you. We keep hearing this. So let’s skip the chit-chat, and I’ll break out the corkscrew. (Obligatory: moderation, people. Practice moderation.) (And sidenote, that article opened my eyes to the fact that there is now wine-infused coffee. This really blurs the structure of my day.)
  • One of my favorite cities on this planet held a memorial 5k. For a cat. Named Catsby. If it wasn’t dance recital weekend, I may have considered attending.
  • Yes. That’s all.

H’okay! I hope your long weekend is relaxing and fun and productive/unproductive (depending on what you want it to be) and filled with sparkles and rainbows and love. See you next week!

SHOP

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Just because.

Well. I’ve been absent again. It has been a long week, and I honestly haven’t even known what to write about. So I didn’t.

Except that I kinda did. Thank you so very much to the Minneapolis Running folks again for publishing another article of mine. I was able to tackle a tough subject that comes up frequently on my blog: mental health. I hope you enjoy it and find some use from it, even if you don’t have issues with your mental health.

ALSO! The next day, they hosted a live video with none other than Sarah Bowen Shea, who is honestly one of my very favorite people ever. I constantly rave over Another Mother Runner, so if you haven’t checked them out by now…honestly, what are you waiting for?

So now: let’s have a conversation and catch up a little. How have you been? How’s the fam?

Fine, thanks. Whatcha been eating lately?

I’ve really been continuing the effort to meal plan and prepare ahead of time. It makes my life sooooo much less stressful. We’ve tried several new recipes these past few weeks, and there have been hits and misses.

Quinoa goes over well with my kiddo and husband. Especially in more Mexican-centric dishes. Or cheesy. Stuffed pepper soup was my favorite. The creamy avocado pesto pasta above? Big fail. And not even good for leftovers, because I am not a fan of  the color/flavor of avocado when it’s more than a few minutes old.

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I also jumped into the world of Shakeology. I’m sure most of you are familiar with it or have at least heard about it/read about it in your Facebook newsfeed. I’d been on the fence for quite sometime, because I try not to get too caught up in anything that is associated with MLM. But after forgetting to make breakfast for myself several days in a row, it seemed like something to at least try.

So far, I’m not disappointed one bit. It’s quick. I have a billion recipes to try, and I’ve loved the ones I’ve tried so far (including birthday cake, Kit Kat, sunshine creamsicle, and peanut butter cup). And it keeps me FULL. Fuller than I thought possible with a shake. I’ll continue to try this month and see how it goes, but it is a luxury that makes my mornings easier so far. Some days, I need all the help I can get.

Great. What have you been up to?

Not running. Oops, am I supposed to admit that? I ran a couple times last week. This week? Nada. Hubby is out of town for the whole week on a work trip, and I’ve been hopping. It is our last week of dance before summer, and it includes dance rehearsals and two recitals this weekend. Throw in an out-of-town work conference, two cats & one dog, and a kid with mood swings worse than a Sourpatch Kid? I’m fried. My house is a war-zone. I’m basically throwing kibble on the floor for all the critters to consume. I may have even bathed LJ with a few baby wipes at one point this week. (Don’t worry. She got a bath the next night.)

I literally found a plate of LJ’s dinner turned over on the living room floor last night. It had dried and crusted to the plate by the time it was flipped over, though, so the carpet was completely unscathed. An embarrassing sort of victory.

As for last weekend, Mother’s Day was…good. I am blessed to be a mom. I am blessed to have so many lovely women in my life and my daughter’s life. But it also is a day filled with inner-turmoil for me and for others, I know. For me, I have a fractured relationship with the person I most want to celebrate. I love her so very much, and I miss her. I hope things can be better some day, but that doesn’t make Mother’s Day less painful now.

The other person I want to celebrate with is my grandmother, whom I’ve written about in the past. She meant and still means so much to me, so LJ and I made a trip to visit her and Grandpa’s burial site. We talked with them, and LJ gave them many hugs and kisses. We brought flowers and thanked Grandma for being wonderful. We had conversations about life and death, and I was honest with LJ, even when it was painful for me and confusing for her. I won’t hide my grief, because I want her to know how amazing her great-grandma was.

Because hubby left the day before Mother’s Day, he and LJ both found ways to make me feel loved that weekend. They sent flowers to me at work on Saturday, and LJ slept in until 9:00 Sunday morning. What a darling.

What are you reading?

Oh, boy. I’ve got a gigantic TBR list, and I realized how far behind I am on my reading goal for the year. So I’ve been cruising through the chapters these last few days. I just finished a wonderful/tragic graphic novel called Last Things: A Graphic Memoir of Loss and Love by Marissa Moss. Highly recommended, but it will pull at your heart. This is a bleak one, but it captures the reality some people face when their loved one is faced with terminal illness.

I’m in the process of tackling Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a short read but I’m taking a little extra time to digest each “chapter.”

Also in line to finish up Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig soon.

Okay, great. Anything else?

I’m running the TC 10 Mile, thanks to the Mother Runner crew! I’m soooooo excited, because this was one of my favorite races ever. So I’m back in training-planning mode with a renewed energy. I’ll reach my goals someday, and this was a big boost.

Also, this is my workplace, and I love it. Especially when the sky is shiny happy:

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This post ended up being much longer than anticipated. Hopefully I learn to break it up a little bit in the future, but you know how I operate…silence and then surprise.

SHOP

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FriYAY

The sun is shining. The skies are blue. It’s Friday. The stars are aligned or the gods are finally happy with us or Mother Nature is just in a really damn good mood. Any way you cut it, today is beautiful in my neck of the woods, and I hope it’s great for you, too.

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Lunch breaks: deck, book, food. Win.

I found my way out on the beaten trail a couple of times this week, and I have a “race” tomorrow, if you can call it that. It’s a local event that sponsors local families dealing with serious illnesses. Always gives you the happy tingly feelings inside your heart to see so many community members getting together for a good cause. And it’s nice to have companions on my usual running paths!

This week has also provided opportunities to get outside as a family, something we never do enough of. I’m not sure if it’s easier or more difficult now that LJ is older, but she’s an active kiddo. So anything that helps tucker her out is good in my book.

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I’ve been really contemplating my relationship with food these past few weeks, as is evidenced by the great sugar fast of April 2017. (Y’know…by great, I mean 3 whole days sugar-free and a few more days mostly sugar-free.) It’s part of my unofficial “health reset” where I basically start building myself brick-by-brick again.

I’ve observed my behavior, and I am noticing a trend. If I start eating refined sugar earlier in the day, I want it all day. If I abstain for a while, I’m less likely to crave it and think about it. So whatever that’s worth…I don’t know.

This article seemed to hit at exactly the right time, though. It preaches kindness, and that’s what I need to remember.

The most important one that is helping me be kinder to myself every day? Find what works for you.

What works for you may not work for someone else—and that is okay. When it comes to food (and running and life…) it is okay to experiment. You may make a mistake. Something may not work for you. But, you’ll learn from it and move on.

This morning, I woke up, thought about the snacking I did after I got home from work last night, and my mind immediately thought, “You eat garbage. You are garbage.”

I caught myself. I was surprised, because I realized these are thoughts I have often but don’t often stop myself from having. This morning, I corrected myself: “You didn’t eat great last night. It satisfied some need or desire you had, even if it wasn’t the healthiest way to do it. Today will be better, starting…now.”

I didn’t 100% believe myself, but I believe there’s some merit to the phrase “Fake it ’til you make it.”

Well, before I pack up and head out for the weekend, I’d be remiss if I didn’t wish you a belated happy Star Wars Day.

Here’s my little Wookiee with her Wookiee hair and her Wookiee shirt. And my dog, because…Chewbarka.

SHOP

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3/28/17: Tasty Tuesday

I did it! I came back like I said I would! Aren’t you proud? (Cue the crickets.)

Well, meal planning wasn’t exactly my strong suit this week. I know I have much smoother weeks when I do plan out everything on Sunday afternoon/evening, but I am realistic. It’s not always gonna happen. Life happens.

Luckily, hubby ran to the store late Sunday night to get at least one recipe’s worth of ingredients. I’ve wanted to try stuffed peppers for quite some time, and they jumped to the top of the recipe pile as I was shuffling through my food folder. What better time than a Monday?

I used a recipe I found a few weeks ago on the Poundfit blog, and…yum! They took a little more preparation time than anticipated, and I also neglected to see the part where they bake for 30-40 minutes. Still, we had a delicious and healthy meal hot from the oven around 7:00 PM.

Verdicts:
-Hubby: thumbs way up! By the end of the meal, he was talking about tweaks we could make, and he was excited to take the leftover filling to work with him. It’s a good standalone mix, too.

-LJ: meh, okay, if I must. We have a bit of a sassy attitude and picky eating thing going on these past few days. (Yay for spirited 3-year-olds!) It has been challenging. I did get her to take some reluctant bites, which she said tasted good. But then she’d say the next bite I offered was going to be yucky. We continue to push foods that she has decided she doesn’t like, though, because it usually takes several tries with kiddos before they realize, “Hey, maybe this isn’t so bad.” The more exposure, the better in our household.

-Me: yes, pretty great, thanks. I used a combination of red peppers and green peppers, and I have to say the red peppers complement the recipe much better. In the future, I’ll plan on using red. I also wanted a little more pow to it, so I may tweak it with  chili powder or cumin in the future. I also would like to incorporate some other veggies in there. This seems like a very versatile recipe.

On the schedule for my evening: Ironstrength DVD workout. I like that it’s made with runners in mind, and I love the short segments. 99% of the time, I try not to fall for the ad emails I receive. This one really caught me, though, and I am glad it did. I love Runner’s World and trust their products, so it seemed pretty-low risk. I also heard Dr. Metzl (creator of Ironstrength) on a podcast, and he was fantastic.
The first time I did the workout, I just about vomited. But in a good way. Is there a good way? If there were, this would be it. It worked my muscles and body in a new, effective way. And it scares me a little bit before I start it each time. Sometimes, it’s good to do things that scare you a little bit.

Enjoy your evening! Go do something a little scary.

Cassie

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3/14/17: Tasty Tuesday

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Welcome to Tasty Tuesday! Gave a little teaser on my Facebook page this morning, so I figured I better follow through.

I’m still really enjoying LJ’s active interest in the kitchen. She wants to drag her stool everywhere so she can see everything going on, whether it’s prepping ingredients or washing dishes. (I hope she’s still fascinated by dishes in about 7 years. Or forever.)

Last night’s experiment was with black bean burgers! I have been vegetarian for, oh…maybe 9 years or so now? Hubby has for probably 5, and LJ has been her whole life. We face some challenges with this, but it’s worth it for us.

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She mostly covered her ears when the food processor was on, but she did take a few pushes of the button.

Anyway, even though we’ve been vegetarian for a while, we’ve never made our own black bean burgers from scratch. I’m a fan of a good black bean burger at a restaurant. Not the defrosted Boca burgers that many restaurants use. An actual homemade burger. The best ones even fall apart in the bun, because they’re made from honest-to-goodness whole foods.

I found this recipe on the POUND fit blog (sidenote: if you are a fan of music/dance during your workouts and haven’t checked out POUND, you’re missing out), and we decided it looked easy enough that we should give it a shot.

It was a mostly successful venture for us!

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Stove-top griddles are fantastic.

The initial recipe called for 1 1/2 cups of black beans and 1/2 cup of chickpeas. We ended up doubling the amount of black beans and probably could have added more chickpeas. The recipe didn’t thicken up as much as we had hoped; I didn’t expect it to be thick like an actual burger, but it was basically liquid when we first mixed it up.

I also left out the cayenne, because hubby has a sensitive palate. Hubby commented that he thought the recipe could use some more salt and seasoning. I told him the goal was to eliminate extra salt sources for health reasons. He agreed it was healthier that way but tastier with more salt. We are at an impasse…though he is right. Most things taste better with salt.

LJ wasn’t a fan at first, but that’s normal for her when she tries new foods. We pulled out the good ol’ Daniel Tiger song, though, and he helped us save the day. By the end of the meal, she had eaten almost all of her burger and bun. And she even hesitantly admitted she liked it.

I think we’ll try this again, but I may research a few different recipes to see if there are some different seasoning options. Any of you ever tried making your own black bean burgers before?

Happy almost-hump day!

Read on. Run on.
Cassie

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3/12/17: Sunday Runday

Technically, Saturday was my “Runday,” but I’ve still got some stuff I want to get out of my brain.

I ran a 14k yesterday. (That’s just about 8.7 miles.) It was just kinda okay. It was really cold and windy. The muscles from my feet up through my calves started spasming. At one point after the race, my toes literally curled under on my right foot, and I couldn’t figure out how to uncurl them. I’m not sure if it was from the cold, but I do know I had to walk most of the last 1.5 miles (bringing my pace wayyyy down).

 

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Sent this pic to hubby along with a four letter word in all caps. You can take your own bets on what word it was.

 

I was last place in my age group. I was nearly last for the whole damn 14k. Most days, I have the energy to tell myself, “But hey, you’re out there doing it! YOU are your only competition! You’ve got a lot to be proud of.”

Yesterday, my brain wasn’t having it. I was so angry and spent a good chunk of the afternoon and evening in our hotel room: sore, tired, and wondering why I do this. Why do I pay money to travel to races, run until I want to barf or lie down, injure myself occasionally, and generally feel sort of miserable? Why do I do this if I’m not even “good” at it?

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The truth is…I still can’t exactly explain it. I still don’t exactly know why. This thing, running, this thing I used to HATE in school (I was petrified of running the dreaded “mile” in school.) has become a savior for me. I can’t explain it, but most days I can feel it.

It’s going to get better. I’m going to get better. I have to believe that. I have to believe this isn’t “all” for me.” And I have to remember that even if it is, I still have a lot to be proud of. Back of the pack is okay. It’s more than okay. It means I still tried, and I did it, and I’m setting a good example for others, most importantly LJ.

 

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There’s my reason.

 

I am okay.

Read on. Run on.
Cassie

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1/23/17: Manic Monday

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via Giphy

My training plan started today! And I won’t lie, I felt a little Nemo-ish when I woke up. Well, as Nemo-ish as one can be at 5:30 in the morning.

Summary: It was sleeting. The sidewalks were covered in ice. (Yaktrax are a blessing.) I’m on the cusp of catching the kiddo’s respiratory illness. I was slow. I had a twinge of pain here or there. But it is done. And I just want to be all healed and back on the road so very badly. Hoping I get stronger each day.

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First day of school! First day of school!

Without further ado, here are a couple quick tidbits for a busy Monday.

Every time I read an article on being too hooked on technology, I think, “I know! I know I need to quit playing with my phone. Put it down, woman!” But then I don’t do a very good job of putting it down. I’ll just keep trying to beat it into my brain. Here’s another good one.

I really enjoy reading what Dean Karnazes writes. This gem is no exception. I should just print this out and read it everyday. So many simple reminders of some pretty darn good ways to use your mind to achieve goals.

And without going too far into discussions of current volatile political topics, I will say this last week has been difficult. I am trying to handle the accompanying anxiety with some grace and mostly just a lot of hiding under the covers. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve seen some incredibly powerful examples of humanity and kindness and strength.

But I’ve also been seeing the nasty words, the “us vs. them” mentality,  and finger-pointing that has been going back and forth between strangers, acquaintances, and even friends and family. It is incredibly disheartening, and even if I shouldn’t let it weigh heavily on me, I do. I know others do, too.

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Let’s just chill for a bit and eat some popcorn and watch some Curious George, k guys?

All I will say is this: please be mindful and respectful with your posts, words, and actions. That’s not asking too much. (The librarian in me asks that you also fact check before you share that meme, but that’s a whole other post.) Anywho, Jenny Lawson thinks this week has been difficult, too. And I love her, because she gets it.

Read on. Run on.
Cassie

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1/2/17: Not-so-manic Monday

More like mellow Monday? Days off for all of us today mean we are still in our jammies at noon! That’s just fine. Usually, I’m in such a big hurry to get dressed and ready and out the door doing something that I don’t take time to just sit. We all need to just sit and enjoy our coffee some days.

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My cats happen to be experts in relaxation.

I suppose it’s also time to take down some of the Christmas decor today. *sigh* I am one of those people who generally puts it up in mid-November, when some would consider it “early.” Doesn’t mean I’m any less sad to see it go.

My BFF got me an infuser water bottle for Christmas, and I already am in LOVE with it. Had myself a non-alcoholic mojito yesterday, and I sucked down 32 ounces of water in a snap. I’ve been having trouble meeting my water goals this last year, and I think this is really going to help.

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Lime, mint, and some blackberries for fun. Added a tsp of coconut sugar, but definitely not needed.

So in the not-so-manic spirit, let’s all be in awe of this amazing record-setter. It’s all I can do to just put one foot in front of the other while I run, so I bow down to this gentleman (and his predecessor).

Hope you are finding some time to relax today, too!

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Brunch with my wild girl yesterday.

Read on. Run on.
Cassie

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