Friday, December 27, 2013

This is the End

I have been working through Susannah Conway's Unraveling The Year Ahead 2014. It is a free downloadable PDF workbook. It is a super helpful way for me to organize my thoughts regarding reflecting back on 2013 and for setting goals for 2014.

At the end of the reflection time for 2013, Susannah asks us to write out anything we need to say to the old year or things we want to say goodbye to.

I had three things:

1. Goodbye to the Edge - I have been standing on the edge for a good part of 2013, watching and waiting and wondering when it was going to be the time to step off the edge. The time is now, 2014.

2. Goodbye to Fear - I took Brene Brown's e-course The Gifts of Imperfection this fall. A quote that was a big catalyst in her life has also really inspired me for 2014. The quote is by Theodore Roosevelt from his Man in the Arena speech.

"It is not the critic who counts;
 not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles,
or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. 
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,
 whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;
who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again,
because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; 
but who does actually strive to do the deeds; 
who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions;
who spends himself in a worthy cause;
 who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,
 and who at the worst,  if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly,
 so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls
 who neither know victory nor defeat."

Finally the 3rd one, which is the hardest one for me to say goodbye to, but it is time. I have been toying with idea for the latter half of the 2013.

3. Goodbye to Becoming a Finisher - This blog has served me well for two years and it was a great starting point for blogging. Some of my best and favorite stories are here, but it is time to put my focus on Paisely Rain Boots. No need to worry though the writing will not end, if anything I will be devoting more time to writing in 2014.

The words from Adele's song Skyfall from the James Bond Movie of the same name kept playing in my head as I wrote these three things out.

This is the end
Hold your breath and count to ten
Feel the earth move and then
Hear my heart burst again

For this is the end
I've drowned and dreamt this moment
So overdue I owe them
Swept away, I'm stolen

Let the sky fall
When it crumbles
We will stand tall
Face it all together

Time to stand tall in 2014 and go forth courageously.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Composting the Story

This Autumn I have lived very much in the moment. Particularly on a daily basis, through my camera lens. Everyday the focus was on getting the next picture for my 365 project, hoping it would be even better than the photo the day before. In this single minded focus somewhere along the way I lost my inner voice, that voice I rely on to write.

Now don't get me wrong my daily pursuit of my photography this Autumn has been more than worthwhile. I have learned so much about myself, my photography style, and yes how to get a better photograph. But when I am really honest with myself, for me photography is only half of what makes me whole. I need the words, the story, as much as I need the photograph.

I didn't realize how much I was missing that inner voice until I started reading Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones. This book has been sitting on my bookshelf next to my bed for nearly a year now, but I always think you can't really read something until you are ready to listen to what it has to say.

When I got to Natalie's chapter on Composting these words of her's really struck a chord with me:

"Our senses by themselves are dumb. They take in experience, but they need the richness of sifting for a while through our consciousness and through our whole bodies. I call this "composting." Our bodies are garbage heaps: we collect experience, and from the decomposition of the thrown-out eggshells, spinach leaves, coffee grounds, and old steak bones of our minds come nitrogen, heat and very fertile soil. Out of this fertile soil bloom our poems and stories. But this does not come all at once. It takes time. Continue to turn over and over the organic details of your life until some of them fall through the garbage of discursive thoughts to the solid ground of black soil."

This is what I had been missing; that reflective time, the composting, the sifting of experiences to make rich, fertile black soil in order to grow words, grow stories.

I feel that December is always that month of reflection, a time to look back over this past year, the time and place to sift through our experiences. I am going to be doing some composting this month and see what black soil emerges.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"So What Do You Do?"

Whenever you meet new people the inevitable question is going to come up "So what do you do?" which translates to "What do you do to make money?".

From the time I was 18 up until two years ago that question never bothered me. I always had an answer to that question " I am a receptionist for a new home builder", "I am a data-entry clerk for a library furniture manufacturer", "I work in retail". People understood those answers.

Even the couple of years that I stayed home when Mallory was in elementary school, people understood being a stay at home mom.

But now...what do I say I do now?

Technically, I am a photographer. I do product photography for a furniture store for their website and Facebook page, and I do get paid for that, but what I do is so much bigger than that.

What caused me to start thinking on this subject is a statement from Stephanie Levy who is teaching the Wild Courage class I am taking. She says "I often wonder why it is so difficult for most artists and creative people to say - publicly and out loud - I am an artist or I am a writer or I am a photographer".

The answer for me is FEAR. The fear of explaining what I do, the fear of being misunderstood about what I do. The fear of not being good enough.

What tangible evidence is there of my work? I haven't won any prizes for my photography, I haven't written a book. I don't do portrait sessions. So how can I say that I am a photographer or a writer?

I am not doing what I do for the money, I am doing it because I love it. I have heard in a couple of different sermons this year something that really struck me. God is the master artist and creator, he gave me these gifts and passions that I have, to use and be proud of, not to hide under a bushel.

So I am going to look fear in the eye, gather my courage and start saying "I am a photographer, a writer and an explorer". Who knows what interesting conversations might come from that statement.

What are you afraid to say that you do?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Time Alone

I have been alone for the past two days. Alone for the first time in almost two months. First there was the busyness of getting ready for a two week vacation, then there was the vacation itself. Once home again there was the joy of spending time with Mallory and getting her ready to go back to college.

All these things have been wonderful, but they have left me with no time alone to think. My creative energy has been running on empty. Yesterday I realized why I have been floundering, the voice in my head has been missing. That "voice" fuels my creative fire.

I have been super productive the last two days. I was getting so many things crossed off of my to-do list, but I still wasn't taking time to just be.

Last night I decided to go to one of my favorite places, Lake Michigan. Sand and water are tinder for my soul. I was on the hunt for "numbers", which was the prompt of the day for a photo challenge that I am participating in during the month of August.

When I reached the end of the pier I found my "numbers" in some graffiti. Content to snap a photograph with my iPhone to transform later at home on my iPad, I started to wander back along the boardwalk towards the parking lot.

During this wandering is when it happened, the voice in my head returned. That glorious voice made me do a leap of joy. I was all alone out there, but really I would have jumped even if other people had been around.

That's when I realized this voice in my head, which I have generally taken for granted or wished would go away, is my creative muse. Photography ideas started popping into my head in rapid succession, this story started writing itself, and I felt alive again.

Driving home with all these ideas swirling in my head, I began again the debate I often have with myself. Which passion to pursue? Photography or writing?

Photography: I love the challenge of photography and the learning that goes into the process. I may never hit it "Big" as a photographer, but I would like to at least print some of my own stuff to hang on my walls.

Writing: I love it when the stories effortlessly write themselves, but I must have that voice in my head in order to write. Otherwise I am just an empty vessel.

While reading before bed last night, the answer presented itself. I am reading A Homemade Life: Stories and recipes from my kitchen table by Molly Wizenberg. She was writing about why she blogs, "I write about food and cooking, and in that sense I aim to be informative, but I write about my life some too, since it intersects with food roughly three times a day. I don't think many of us are terribly interested in recipes that have no stories or real-life context. For me, the two are inseparable. One is pale  and boring without the other."

Substituting my photography and exploring for her food and cooking, I had my answer to that nagging question once and for all.

Next time I am feeling uncreative or lose that voice in my head, I know that I must set some time aside to be by myself, head to the beach, and all will be well again.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Pool of Chaos

When you throw an introvert into a pool of chaos it quickly becomes a life threatening situation.

If a life preserver is not offered to the introvert in a short amount of time, the feeling of drowning begins.

The Life Preserver - is a place far from the edge of the pool. A place that is quiet and filled with only the introvert. The introvert needs this place to see the chaos but not be a part of it. A place where they can observe and process what is going on, so they can figure out where they will best fit into the pool party. 

Drowning - If the life preserver is not offered the feeling of drowning soon begins. The introvert thrashes out trying desperately to keep their head above water, but quickly they become tired, the life drains out of them and a feeling of depression fills them instead. 

One introvert can not save another introvert because they are too busy trying to keep their own head above water.

An extrovert will never understand the feelings of the introvert, as much as, the introvert tries to explain it, or how many times they go to the same pool party. For the extrovert, Life is the pool party.

The only thing that can save the introvert is that life preserver, the place, and time. So they can figure out where they fit in and always, always the introvert needs a purpose.

Give the introvert a job, a purpose, a way to use their gifts and talents and they will be so happy. Resuscitation has occurred.

*After I wrote this story I decided to reread Susan Cain's - Quiet: The Power of the Introvert in a World that Can't Stop Talking. Trying to make some sense of my Introverted Life.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

All That is Left is the Roses

classy by jennifernish
classy, a photo by jennifernish on Flickr.

 We have lived in our current house for almost 10 years now, and many days of those 10 years have been spent walking with Riley and Scout through our neighborhood.

I have seen many changes to the neighborhood over these past 10 years. Mainly in the form of houses being bought and sold. Younger families moving in and older couples moving out, needing a smaller place with less yard.

There have also been the cases where the moving truck comes but only half of the house's possessions leave. A sad reminder that vows pledged to spend a lifetime together didn't go as planned.

There are also two houses that I know of where only one spouse remains but for a different reason, a reason of great sadness. The lifetime that they envisioned together cut short by a ravaging disease.

The two houses that I thought about most this morning on our walk have experienced the ultimate loss, the loss of it's sole surviving occupant.

The first house was owned by an elderly lady, who was easily in her 80's when we moved here. She only lived in the house in the summer. I am assuming spending the colder months in a warmer climate.

Buick, a photo by cdine on Flickr

I remember she would come roaring out of her driveway in her monstrous Buick, making me extremely cautious as I approached her house. In the Winter when I walked past I could see through the thin sheer curtains the mannequin she had sitting on the couch. As the Winter wore on the mannequin's head would tilt closer and closer to her shoulder. Anyone just causally passing by would think the dear lady had passed on and was slowly deteriorating.

One Spring there was no roaring Buick but instead a For Sale sign in the front yard, and all her possessions were lined up in the driveway as part of an Estate Sale. Quite quickly the house was sold to the people next door, who tore it down and made the former site of the house a green space and garden. I miss the old gal and her Buick, but most of all, I miss seeing that mannequin in the window every Winter.

It is the second house that got me writing this post in my head as the dogs and I continued our Journey towards home. As we rounded the corner at our half way point in the walk, there they were...his lovingly cared for roses lit beautifully by the early morning sun. In glorious full bloom along his split rail fence. Each Spring he would be out there on his wheeled garden stool, tenderly weeding around each rose bush.

Saskia II (KC-19) a photo by handforged on Flickr
I never exchanged many words with him other than the occasional "hello", "Good Morning" or "it's a beautiful day", so I don't know much about his life other than what I observed. I know that he loved to sail at one point in his life, since there was a beauty of a wooden sailboat that sat in his side yard. I never saw it leave that spot though, so I think he was past his sailing days, but once in a while I would see him on a ladder next to it tinkering away, so I know he still loved his boat, possibly as much as he loved those roses.

I knew things changed the year the ceramic Christmas tree stayed on the table in the front window through all four seasons. Then the sad things happened, a For Sale sign went up on the sailboat, and a For Sale sign went in the front yard. I saw the cars with the out of state license plates emptying the house into a U-Haul truck. 

It took a while for the house to sell, and I am not sure the new owners live there other than in the summer. Thankfully though they have left his roses and have even weeded around them. They still bloom gloriously every summer, an ongoing testimony to the love he put into them. 

Someday we will sell this house and downsize, moving closer to wherever Mallory finally settles. This made me wonder what people will remember about me and our house. I am hoping they will remember the lady who dutifully walked her two golden retrievers through the heat of Summer, the rain of Spring and the cold of Winter. They will remember the house that always had it's garage door open when we were home. They will remember the lady who did still life photography on her front porch, and the year she finally did something with her hideous side garden and made it beautiful.

What will people remember about you and your house? I would love to hear your story.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Not Much to Say...

Ok... that isn't really true. I have lots to say, just no time to say it.

Summer is flying by way too fast. I know for those of you with kids in Elementary School through High School your summer just started, but for those of us with college kids, our summer is half over already.

Mallory leaves for her 5 week Campus Crusade Summer Mission Project trip to Montana in less than two weeks. We leave for our two week road trip to Montana in just over a month. By the time we all get home from Montana, there will be two and a half weeks before we pack Mallory up, take her back to school and move her into her apartment. So time is becoming very precious...

Hence why I have not been writing much here at Becoming a Finisher. I have been focusing my spare time on my photography this summer. I am sure it is because of our road trip. I want to be the best I am capable of so that I can capture some awesome shots on this trip. The scenery promises to be amazing, so I need to bring my A game.

For the moment I seem to have worked through all my heavy, thought provoking problems. I am sure given time that some new ones will find me.

Exercise - I am still working out with my personal trainer, Maribeth once a week. I am also still taking the High Intensity Interval Training class on Thursday nights. I dropped yoga for the summer, just to free up a day. I have started on the chin-up bar in the last couple of weeks, I am up to 5 shaky ones. Goal is to get to 7 strong ones.

Weight - Is in the maintenance mode, mainly I am gaining muscle, as we continue to concentrate on my upper body strength.

Self-Portraits - I haven't had much spare time to work on these this summer, and to be honest no burning desire to work on them right now. I did convince Mallory to take a new profile picture of me this week. It is current - the current season, the current hair style and length, glasses are coming next week.

Food - Meals continue to be hit or miss around here. I am mainly sticking to things that can be heated up quickly and fast meals. Although, Mallory did make a delicious, healthy Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp the other night. Get the recipe here.

Yes, the ice cream may diminish the healthy qualities a wee little bit, but it is so yummy!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

I'm a Glasses Kind of Girl

I wanted them to work...

Okay maybe I was only kind of hopeful they would work. But I did give them a try and much to my disappointment or delight they just aren't for me.

I spent last Wednesday morning in a one-on-one contact session, learning how to put them in and take them out, as well as, general care. It only took me ten minutes and I had the whole in and out routine under control.

I have worn contacts before, but that was back in high school, so almost 30 years ago. Back then you had very few choices, basically there was hard or soft. One pair lasted you for a whole year, hopefully.

Today there is daily wear, two week wear and more.

I tried the daily wear last week Wednesday. I was not impressed with those. They don't make the prescription I need for my right eye, so everything was a bit fuzzy in that eye. There was also a weird gapping on the sides in my peripheral vision. I couldn't wait to get home and take those out.

Today I tried the two week wear ones. They fit better and the prescription was correct for both eyes, but my close up vision was not so good (normally it is fine). I had to don my husband's readers to write my check out for church. So what am I gaining here by going to contacts? Nothing!

The really weird thing about wearing contacts for me was that I felt so exposed. I never thought I was hiding behind my glasses, but I guess they are a barrier between me and the world, and I am okay with that.

I have been looking at new frames while all of this has been going on. I have found a couple pair that I really like. I want something a little different from what I have now. When you wear the same thing everyday for two years you like to change it up a bit.

I was almost ready to make my frame decision when the owner of my favorite optical shop dangled a carrot in front of me. He said "I have a lot of new frames coming into the store in the next couple of weeks". I will keep these two options in mind (I do have a favorite) when the new ones come in and see if anything else tempts me. So you might get to see a few more options before the final decision is made.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Standing on the Edge

If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try  ~ Seth Godin

I have been standing on the Edge for a while now. On the Edge of something big, on the Edge of adventure, and on the Edge of Fear.

Last Sunday, I heard the message I have needed to hear for months now about facing the Edge. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up, and I automatically sat up straighter in my chair. Then I started frantically searching for a piece of paper and a pen to take notes. Hoping I hadn't missed anything important while this searching was going on.

I was obviously suppose to be sitting in the congregation that day and not upstairs doing the power point slides, which I do a couple times a month. I will admit when I am upstairs the sermon may not always have my full attention, but a good book might :)

Here are some key points from that message that caught my attention:

  • I have been given certain life experiences, certain life passions, certain gifts, and certain people in my path (especially in the last year) as He has prepared me for this Edge.
  • The Edge comes when He connects with us through ordinary events, and through ordinary people as He begins to take us on an Extraordinary Journey.
  • Standing on the Edge almost always creates a dance between belief and doubt.

Haven't you had those arguments with yourself in which you say you can't and that Voice inside of you says "Yes, you can"? You say your afraid and the Voice says "It doesn't matter, you have to do it".

What it comes down to is Belief and Trust. Belief in yourself and Trust in God, or whomever your inner voice is.

Here are some things that have me standing on the Edge:

  • Hanging around with my friend Jane has brought about some opportunities that I would never have tried by myself.
  • Connecting with new people. As an introvert this has always been a challenge for me. Creating new friends via a Facebook Group last year really opened the door for me on this one. I consider some of these women that I have never met, very dear friends.  Now random new people seem to be popping into my life all the time, and I am loving it.
  • Starting a new series on my other blog, PaisleyRainBoots, called Passionate People. This series will be about interviewing and photographing people and the things that they are passionate about. A big step out of my comfort zone, but something I am feeling very passionate about doing. The first one in the series will be posted sometime this week.
  • Contemplating going to this photography workshop in Houston in November. BIG STEP! But if I don't continue to push myself I will never grow into who I am suppose to be.
I have been standing on the Edge for a while now, afraid to take that next step wherever it might lead. The time is now to Believe and Trust and step off the Edge.

How about you? Are you standing on the Edge?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Being a Mom

Happy Mother's Day!

My husband would quite often ask me as our daughter got into the middle school and high school years, why did I continue to wake her up each morning, make her breakfast, and then clean up her breakfast dishes. My reply was always "I don't mind, it's not a big deal".

Well this week she is back home from college for the summer, and once again I am waking her up, making her breakfast, and packing her lunch. She does take care of her breakfast dishes now. As I was doing these things this week I got to thinking about my husband's question again.

Then it dawned on me, the reason that I do these things is because I wish my mom had done these things for me when I was growing up. My mom worked 2nd shift through much of my elementary school years. She would still be in bed in the morning when I had to get up. So I was on my own to get dressed, make my own breakfast, and pack my own lunch. I walked to the bus stop with a neighbor girl and if it was raining or snowing, her mom would drive us to the bus stop.

I have always strived to be different than my mom, maybe a bit to the excess, but I am one who always errs on the side of too much instead of not enough.

I have made a very conscience effort to have the relationship with Mallory that I don't have with my own mother. To be fair to my mom, a lot of it isn't her fault. The only child of a loveless marriage, and the daughter of a hot headed, first generation Italian farmer. My grandpa's motto was work, work and work harder. Leisure activities were unheard of in their family. These factors had a huge effect on her.

I know that my mom loves me and my brother, she just didn't have the best parenting role models to learn how to express that love.

I was fortunate to have some close friends growing up that had wonderful relationships with their moms. So I watched and learned, and tucked all the information away for the day when I was a mom. I knew that I wanted that wonderful kind of relationship with my own daughter.

Today, my daughter is 19 and just finished her sophomore year of college. Even though most of the year she lives 8 hours away, we are still very close. We talk on the phone everyday, and I am almost always the first person she wants to talk to when something exciting or interesting has happened.

I treasure the time we get to spend together when she is home. I know that someday soon I will have to share her with someone else, and I may not be the first person she calls when something exciting happens, but I will probably be the second. I know that we will always be close and that we will still talk almost everyday.


This week marks a format change for Becoming a Finisher...

I will only be posting weight once a month from now on, since Maribeth informed me this week, that at this point I am only going to gain muscle, not lose much more fat. So the 1/2 lb gain/loss is getting too depressing to post every week.

I am in a nice routine with my exercise, so nothing too new and exciting. If I come across something, I will share it with you all.

Recipes will be hit and miss as we move into the summer season. Everybody seems to be coming and going at different times. The turkey bacon wraps I eat when I am by myself are only exciting once.

I will be focusing more on a story every week (hopefully) since the stories to me are the most important at this point. I plan to continue posting self-portraits as well. Since the weather is finally getting nicer, I hope to have more opportunities to get out and take some.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Letting Go - Week 18

“Sometimes love means letting go when you want to hold on tighter.” 
                                                                         ― Melissa MarrInk Exchange

We spent part of this last week driving the 8 hours to where our daughter goes to school, packing up her dorm room possessions and driving the 8 hours back home again. Thankfully this was spread out over the course of three days.

It was bittersweet saying goodbye to a couple of Mallory's friends that are Seniors this year and are graduating. We are the parents that like to hang out with our daughter's friends, so we have gotten to know these girls over the last two years. We are so happy for them to be entering the real world and pursuing their dreams, but yet we will miss them next year.

Saying goodbye made me think of something I read in our church newsletter a couple of weeks ago. Our Senior Pastor was writing about the graduating high school seniors, and about letting them go out into the world beyond our little community. He wrote "The Lord calls us to hold loosely people we treasure so that He can take these treasures and invest them where they are most needed".

Thankfully I have a couple of years yet before I have to completely let Mallory go. The tears will flow, but I know that we have raised her to let her go. 

A lovely day out at the golf course yesterday. So I took some "selfies" while driving the cart.

This week I lost: 0 lbs.
Total weight loss: 7 lbs.

I started a new exercise class last week - High Intensity Interval Training - here is the description from the class:
 Raise your heart rate, fitness level, and calorie expenditure with short bursts of high intensity cardio, calisthenics, and power moves. Positive team energy fuels this workout you wouldn't do on your own! Elevates mood and metabolism.

What they leave out the description is that fact that you do a lot of coordinated moves on the stepping bench. I apologized to the class saying "I'm sorry but God did not bless me with a lot of coordination". I felt bad for the lady behind me, but I did make it through the class and exactly didn't hurt too bad the next day. So I guess I will be going back.


I have been instructed by my personal trainer to eat more protein and less carbs, especially for breakfast.
So I made these egg and broccoli muffins ahead of time and stored the extra in the refrigerator, then just heat in the microwave for a minute of so in the morning, along with a couple of slices of bacon, perfect protein.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Music for the Journey - Week 16

Music is a total constant. That's why we have such a strong visceral connection to it, you know? Because a song can take you back instantly to a moment, or a place, or even a person. No matter what else has changed in you or the world, that one song stays the same, just like that moment.”                                                                                                                                                   ― Sarah DessenJust Listen

My earliest memories of music were 78 rpm vinyl records spinning on the turnable, and Big Band tunes playing on my Grandpa's console radio that he kept in this beautiful mahogany cabinet with decorative gold leaf trim.

My mom was a big fan of Country Western; Gene Autry, Glen Campbell and Johnny Cash are the ones that I remember. My dad was never one much for music. I have no memories connecting him with music.

I remember sleeping over at my Grandma's house and she would play jazz or blues softly on the radio in the bedroom. I always thought that was such a pleasant way to drift off to sleep.

Then came the late elementary years and the discovery of rock and roll, no disco for me thank you very much. I remember drifting on a raft in the pool, watching the white fluffy clouds in the big blue sky floating along, and WLS out of Chicago cranked up on the radio (when my parents weren't home of course). I thought I was so cool.

The middle school and high school years were in the 1980's; Big Hair Bands, Heavy Metal and Punk. I liked them all. I have to say that Billy Idol was one of my favorites. Those were the years that music went from 78 rpm records to cassettes, and the best thing was to have a cassette player in your car. Cruising the beach in your 4-door cream colored Chevy Chevette with the music cranked up, those were the days.

Honestly I don't remember much about 1990's music, except maybe Madonna, and that was usually because she was doing something scandalous.

The early 2000's and we were very much into Contemporary Christian music. There are lots and lots of CD's and CD cases in our house from that era. Thank goodness for the dawning of the digital music age and the invention of the iPod.

Today I am kind of all over the place with my musically tastes. On my iPod right now you will find; Adele, The Decemberists, The Goo Goo Dolls and Hootie and the Blowfish. Recent favorite discoveries are Josh Garrels, Of Monsters and Men (thanks to The Voice, I love that show). I am also rediscovering a love of The Big Band era thanks to Grandpa and Pandora radio.

What's get the most play on your iPod right now?

The theme this week at 52 of You was Music - that worked out well didn't it?

My iPod

I am not musical instrument inclined, but this is my husband's 12 string guitar and my favorite of his five. I thought it would make for a fun self-portrait.

This week I lost: 0 lbs
Total weight loss: 7.5 lbs.

Holding steady :)


Glen and I competed in our first 5K. He ran, I walked fast. I think he finished in 23 minutes, I did it in 44:51 minutes. I kept a fairly fast steady pace the whole time, and was very pleased with my finish. I was happy there were quite a few walkers, and I was definitely not the last one across the finish line.

This is my favorite way to have asparagus:


1 bunch thin asparagus spears, trimmed
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1-1/2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. lemon juice (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C)
  2. Place the asparagus into a mixing bowl, and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss to coat the spears, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt and pepper. Arrange the asparagus onto a baking sheet in a single layer.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until just tender, 12 to 15 minutes depending on thickness. Sprinkle with lemon juice just before serving.
**Note: I use shredded Parmesan instead of grated, I like the taste of that better. I mix a little parmesan in the bowl, but sprinkle more on top once it is on the baking sheet.  The lemon juice adds nice flavor.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

I Needed a Personal Shopper - Week 15

“Crying is for plain women. Pretty women go shopping.” 
                                                                                  ― Oscar Wilde

I only intended to go in and look at the earrings, and maybe, just maybe find a pair that needed to go home with me. They have a wonderful array of dangling gems that sparkle when they catch the light. After a careful analysis and many holdings up to my ear, I chose a simple, casual pair, that suited me, a simple, casual girl.

Then I turned around, and the explosion of colors sucked me into the depths of the store, it happened so fast I didn't even know I was shopping until I had handed off the earrings, and had two skirts in my hand instead. They were then quickly taken out of my hand and placed in a dressing room. The clothes fitting adventure had begun.

I had shopped at this store many times before, but it was usually my daughter trying on the clothes. I would half-heartedly try things on, always thinking that I was too old for the styles here. Well, I can tell you that Eileen quickly put that myth to rest. Clothes were flying in and out of that dressing room faster than you can say Jiminy Cricket.

I love that Eileen took in to account that I am not a tall, skinny, blonde 20 something, but an average height, average weight, middle aged, artificially enhanced red head. She pulled things based on my coloring, my body type, and my hang up about hating my knees. Yet, she pushed me, gently, to try on things I never in a million years would have tried on by myself. Like this dress...

Which may or may not be hanging in my closet right now :) Who knew it would look so stinking cute on.

Now, I worked in retail for a number of years, so I am very attuned to good customer service, and Eileen rocked it! I appreciate that she wasn't just after the sale. She really wanted me to look good in what I bought. I tried on a dress that I really liked, but she wouldn't let me add it to the potential pile because of the way it bunched in the back just above the bra band. I appreciate that honesty.

Ladies, I would highly recommend taking a morning or an afternoon for yourself, going to a boutique with amazing customer service, step out of your comfort zone and try some new things on. It is startling what it can do for your self confidence.

Eileen, you are now my personal stylist for fun, new clothes. Time to put the solid colored shirts and jeans away and live a little.

*My thanks to Eileen at Tikal for your help and allowing me to take these pictures.

The theme this week at 52 of You was color. Thank heaven finally something fun to work on.

This week I gained: .5 lbs
Total weight loss: 7 lbs.

This week at personal training Maribeth got the hula hoop out. Now I haven't done this since I was a kid, so I was a bit skeptical that I could keep it, but I did, for almost two minutes. Apparently hula hooping is the big craze right now with weighted hula hoops for abdominal work.

This is the second time I have made this pasta salad. It is so good.

Creamy Bacon, Tomato and Avocado Pasta Salad

6 slices of bacon
1/2 lb. dried rotini pasta
1/2 cup mayonnaise
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. dried dill
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 avocado pitted and sliced

1. Cook bacon until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate.
2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Strain. Run cold water over the top until the pasta is cooled.
3. While your bacon and pasta are cooking, whisk mayonnaise, lemon, salt, garlic powder, pepper and dill together in a bowl.
4. Stir cooled pasta, cherry tomatoes, sliced avocado and reserved bacon into the dressing. Toss to combine. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
5. Serve.

* recipe source is

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Pin Drop - Week 14

“We sit silently and watch the world around us. This has taken a lifetime to learn. It seems only the old are able to sit next to one another and not say anything and still feel content. The young, brash and impatient, must always break the silence. It is a waste, for silence is pure. Silence is holy. It draws people together because only those who are comfortable with each other can sit without speaking. This is the great paradox.” 
                                                                                                                                      ― Nicholas SparksThe Notebook

Last night Glen and I along with some friends of ours attended a unique music experience. We attended a Pin Drop Concert. The premise is that the patrons are asked to refrain from talking while the artist is performing. You can still applaud at the end of each song just like a regular concert.

We have all been to an event where the people around you are so noisy that you can't hear the speaker or the performers. 

Ever the skeptic, I wondered if people would actually sit quietly and listen. So I was on the lookout for offenders. I am happy to report that there was great adherence to the no talking rule. The only offenders I saw was the couple in front of us. She would occasionally look at her phone and then he would lean over and look at it too. Maybe they should have us check our mobile devices at the door :)

Maybe this Pin Drop mentality should be applied to all events and performances, that way the speaker or artist would always get the respect they deserve for sharing from their heart.

The theme this week at 52 of You was "Morning". I took these selfies while I was out early Friday morning shooting my Walk and Click adventure for my other blog.

I am sure that if anybody actually watches the surveillance tapes from the estate, they were probably wondering what this lady was doing in the middle of the waterless, water garden. Running back and forth from her camera and tripod to the low wall and iron gate. I am always so grateful that there aren't other people around when I do these self-portraits.

This week I lost: .5 lbs.
Total weight loss: 7.5 lbs.

Maribeth, my trainer must have finally decided I am serious enough about this training stuff. I had to get  weight lifter gloves, since my weights keep getting increased each week and it is starting to take a toll on my hands.

I like to make these sweet potatoes ahead of time and then just reheat when I want them for lunch to go with my turkey wrap.

Roasted Balsamic Sweet Potatoes

1/4 cup decent balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp. salt
3-4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In large skillet bring vinegar and sugar to a boil.
3. Reduce until it starts to thicken. Add butter and salt. 
4. Over medium heat mix till smooth.
5. Place potatoes in pan and toss with sauce.
6. Spread mixture into a baking pan and roast stirring occasionally till potatoes are slightly browned on edges, about 40 minutes.
7. Serve immediately.