I love mornings, all mornings, but summer mornings have special significance in Phoenix, Arizona, it is the one time of the day when I can step outside the door without bursting into flames or instantly becoming a small pile of dry ash. So it is a blessing that my dogs are faithful alarm clocks even when I forget to set a mechanical one.
Both dogs can comfortably go about 7.5 to 8.0 hours between bathroom trips, so if I am not stirring yet on my own they recognize a kiss is the perfect way to wake their sleeping princess.
This morning I walked them for about 15 minutes then in my SOFT pursuit, hit the pool. My training after six months of light duty pretty much consists of actually going (rebuild the habit) and pushing myself one length past the point where I think I want to stop. I also stay swimming for 30 minutes. Today my max without a rest was two laps, however this is my first time since coming back to actually do freestyle strokes with breathing and goggles on, and yes I did try to talk myself out of it at first, but that is why I set specific goals, so I can push through the resurfacing fears like putting my face in the water or bike riding.
Today’s goal is to also break my 10,000 steps. You may not notice but here I went and placed my dead FitBit into its charger and changed the music. I was listening to Stevie Wonder but now am on to Nat King Cole and Peggy Lee. Next on my morning playlist will be some Mantovani. That kind of morning, joyful and blessed.
So everyone’s favorite question when they learn I am a S.O.F.T. (Slow Old Fat TryAthlete) training fro an event and also a vegan is, “Where do you get your protein?”
My smartass reply is,”Same place you do, from plants; I just leave out the middle cow.”
But for those who are actually interested and not just threatened by my choices, here is a favorite breakfast (what I made this morning actually)
Blueberry Protein Porridge for 1
Place a cup and a splash of cold coconut water or spring water into a sauce pan. (Coconut water adds Potassium, needed with all the sweating I do!)
Add a small handful of organic dried blueberries (or cranberries) into the water (thats why the extra splash of water), a pinch of Nutmeg, a pinch of cardamom, and a dash of salt. If your spice cabinet is not as eclectic as mine, cinnamon works too.
Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. (About 3 minutes on my stove at high)
Just before the boil rolls, turn the heat down to simmer and add a half cup of whole oats. I don’t recommend quick cook oats ever, the wholer the oat the better the nutrition and flavor, my favorite are steel cut but today all I had on hand are the organic flat cut from Trader Joe’s. Stir.
Cook till desired consistency but about 5 minutes. Spoon out into a bowl and add 3 T of raw hemp seed and a T of Organic Earth Balance Vegan Spread.
Nom, nom, nom.
High Protein, High fiber and with the “butter” it also has my Omega might increased! Now off to conquer the world!
So I can honestly say that “thriving” is not the first word that came to mind when I put blogging on my list of things I choose to do today, but “Thrive” is my “word of 2013”. My first word was actually “overwhelmed.” “Overwhelmed” was also my first conscious thought upon waking, I almost rolled back over, snuggled with my dogs and went back to sleep; running back into my less than restful dreams, running away from the miasma of sadness, pain and responsibilities looming within that cloudy word. Key word is “almost”; instead I got up and put on my running clothes. If I was gonna run, it was going to be toward something, two somethings actually. I cut two carrots with one knife when I run in the morning. My dogs get some much needed exercise and attention, and I get healthier heart and lungs (as well as firmer thighs, so OK 2.5.)
I made my list of things to do today in my head as I started to walk. Like tangled yarn, I pulled the unusable pieces of my life apart and neatly wound tasks back up on themselves looking for the thread that would begin this day in a pattern with which I could live. Organizing and prioritizing kept me from focusing on the pain in my hips and feet. I know this pain, and know it is the kind I have to run through (as opposed to the kind I get in my knee or lungs that say walk awhile). I set my Endomondo goal as 3 miles (5K) and started to trot with Cozi. By half a mile I was in my zone, no longer hurting or planning but just loving the sound and smell of the infant day. “I can do this easy,” I though, but Cozi had other ideas.
I have been neglecting my four legged children as seriously as I have been neglecting myself and everything else, and his old dog body had had enough at 1 mile and Cozi began sitting down and staring at me about every half block. Cozi is one hundred and seven pounds of very adorable, very stubborn giant golden retriever so I called it good and took him home. I then put Yeager on leash. Where neglect makes Cozi drag, neglect makes Yeager lunge. He and I spent 20 minutes walking circles (if you have ever leash trained a labrador retriever to heel, you can relate to this) and almost making it to the end of the block. I fell short of my 5K, but I did my morning run. Achievement unlocked. Next it was time to physically write my list.
My list does two things, it helps me remember and it helps me focus. I start the list with my word of the year. That is my focus. Focus is what makes plans and goals form from that miasma of “overwhelmed” into a restful sleep of I am achieving. I struggle each day to remember to not trade what I want most, for what I want in the moment, hence my word, “Thrive” at the top of the list. Then I write everything I think I need to do, or want to do today. Also to help with focus, if something comes to mind as I am doing something else I add it to the list and go back to what I was doing until it is completed.
So “Thrive!,” I write. What that word means to me would be a whole blog in itself and today’s writing time is almost over so I can’t go into it now, just suffice it to say that for me thriving encompasses a particular picture of health, my religion of kindness, a commitment to building connection, a new commitment to integrity and to intellectual growth. Blogging is my brief ode to connection today, as today is my first day home without any outside obligation in more than two months and I plan to recharge my seriously depleted introvert battery by not going anywhere or talking to anyone if I can help it. I need time alone as much as I need social connection to thrive, once again, two carrots with one knife
Anyway, Back to thriving, having a word for the year is something I borrowed/learned from one of my favorite genre writers, Debbie Maccomber. A romance writer of that kind of book I generally refer to as a bag of verbal potato chips, where the vocabulary requires no dictionary. A reader can always spot genre fiction because the plot is interspersed every third page with sucking wounds or sucking face. Like potato chips, genre fiction is addictive, I keep reading just five more pages until the whole book is devoured in one sitting. It amuses my slightly snobbish mind that Ms. Maccomber’s mental snack food has also been the source of two of my more useful self-help skills, that of the 20 Wishes Book and the Word of the Year. Maybe snacks of the right quality, consumed in moderation do have a place in my diet.
I could digress here into a hundred things that have been weeds in my garden of thrive, and why I am here a week into April, finally writing about it, but that would not help you or me, or anyone really. What we give energy to grows stronger, so instead I will talk about thriving.
My timer has gone off and another thing “thriving” around here is a mess of weeds in the front yard so I am off to pull them. Will check back later with my crock-pot recipe and any updates on this SOFT (Slow Old Fat Try-athlete) training achievements today. And FTR, I have been to the gym Monday and Wednesday and lifted weights!
Well, here I am at the brink of 2013. I gained 5 pounds over the Christmas Holiday after finally breaking through my personal goal of 199 lbs. The reasons were the both the usual suspects (tasty food and beverages) but also a bit of a lung thing that kept my my running shoes still and no time clocked in the pool. Returned to working out yesterday and after 10 minutes on the elliptical on level 1 and 30 minutes of strength training got dizzy and nauseated so didn’t swim. Today was just patient care for exercise, tomorrow I will do a walk or swim and a wee bit more strength training. I got goals you see, big goals, at least for me. Here they are
Swim 52 kilometers (not at one time, for the year!)
Bike 104 miles (ditto)
Run 800 Kilometers (in 5k and maybe even 10k stretches)
and be able to pop out 50 pushups, 50 crunches and one real pull-up.
And yup, I will be running a couple races, doing one or more mini triaths and at least one maxi!
Now on to the more important stuff like what am I cooking,
Simple and Cheap with flavor that can’t be beat!
Black Eyed Peas, Vegan Style.
Sort, rinse and soak a pound of dried black eyed peas overnight, rinse again in the morning (this helps make them less “musical” if you catch my drift, LOL)
Poor the hydrated beans in your slow cooker and cover with water (about 4-6 cups), add a tsp of red salt (or kosher or sea), two small bay leaves, 2 tsp of dried oregano, and a 1/4 tsp ground pepper. Close the lid put it on low and get on with your day! In 4-6 hours serve up a delicious and nutritious bowl with cornbread, or for a special treat add collard greens or spinach the last half hour of cooking.
Its cheap and ooooh so good in the cooler months, and purported to bring good luck!
Eating some even as I write this.
The most difficult choices are often the subtle ones. Pairing the green slacks with a blue or brown button down instead of with the shiny orange tank top for a business meeting is an easy choice, but picking which blue has the best base notes to complement the green is more difficult. This practiced nuance is what I work to achieve in sorting that most difficult wardrobe accessory, confidence.
Confidence comes from making good choices. Making good choices is predicated upon discerning what is in my control and empowering myself to continue functional behaviors and to change what isn’t working. This is where it gets tricky. Persisitence and insanity (doing the same thing, expecting a different result) can look incredibly similar. Acceptance and defeat also share a similar hue.
When life gives me lemons when I ordered bananas, it’s much easier to do make nothing at all except excuses, after all I ordered bananas. I know I have the ingredients for banana bread, I am craving banana bread, and lemons absolutely do not substitute into my bread recipe. So the lemons rot away while I starve to death dreaming of banana bread cursing the heavens for my lack.
I can begin to look at how to use the lemons. Hey, I have flour and sugar and butter and eggs all available for the banana bread so maybe some scones and lemon curd are in order, and I finally grind the pecans (I put pecans in my banana bread) to make fresh pecan butter as a perfect complement and thank the universe for my abundance.
How does this look in real life?
I have had many challenges, opportunities to survive. Hey, everybody has challenges, so mine are no bigger than yours, just different. Some of my life challenges have been the kind where people cheer to still have you here, like cancer; some are the kind people inwardly want to blame you for (to protect themselves from realizing it can happen to anyone) like homelessness, poverty, abuse and assault; some are the losses that anyone who has a heart will eventually experience like the death of family members, friends, or relationships. All of my challenges have come with plenty of opportunity to whine, blame, and wallow in what I didn’t have or couldn’t do.
There is a great little story I will completely mis-tell here as I distill it into what I remember. It is about a boy who dreams each night of two wolves fighting. One wolf represents fear and famine and hopelessness; the other wolf represents love and abundance and persistence. The boy dreams them equally matched over and over again, and he goes to his father and asks which will eventually win, and the father answers that the winner will be the one the boy feeds.
I get that concept, verbally choosing love over fear, that is the easy part; like picking the business blouse instead of the sports top. Truly implementing it is the tricky part, choosing and change.
What do I actually have the power to change?
To go back to the bananas, some things are obvious, if I only planted Lemon trees the odds of harvesting bananas are really, really slim. A real life example is if I say I want to be healthy and pain free but I do not choose to daily exercise and stretch the muscles I do have use of, nor do I choose to eat whole, healthy natural foods, then I am planting lemons and seeking bananas.
Also, things we plant do not always grow. I have core body changes related to health challenges that make balance and certain fine motor and gross motor movements less than reflexive Sometimes it takes lots of failed attempts to get a desired result. This could be compared to growing bananas where I live. Bananas take lots of moisture and 18 months of no frost to bear fruit; I live in Arizona so bananas are possible although difficult, and as I am still working on actually harvesting zucchini from home grown plants bananas are a loooooooong way off for this gardener. In time I will master banana growing or I may, in the meantime, develop a real love for lemons which grow pretty easily here and abandon the pursuit of bananas. Here is the subtle part again. Realizing that it is a choice. If I decide to focus on lemons or marigolds or zucchini in my garden, how I tell the story to myself is the difference between responsibility and blame.
If I tell myself and others, “Yea, I grow lemons (or marigolds) because I can’t grow bananas in Arizona, its just too dry.” I am a victim, I will in time resent the harvest and the home. However, if I say to myself, “You know bananas are taking up too much of my time and I really love lemons so I am going to grow the best lemons I can!” I am empowered and a survivor and glutted on gratitude.
To move back again to real life, surviving survival to again thrive is the toughest challenge of all. Some days it seems like everyone has moved on with their lives and are winning all the races, while I still struggle with running a mile or balancing on a bike. Those are the days I review my 20 wishes book, reassess where I am today, and recommit myself to who I want to be tomorrow. I am not competing with anyone but me, all I have to do is keep trying, and slowly improve and I am a success.
I have so many dreams still; some involve a healthy pain free body, some involve managing to actually have lasting intimate relationships, some involve formal education, some are about world travel and some just involve feeling safe. I can tell myself the stories about how and why I hurt, am afraid, isolate, stay home, am not in school; or I can look at the stories and determine where I actually am, what I can change, what I want, and devise the steps I can take to get there if it is a goal I want to pursue. Some of these goals are bananas some are lemons. Not all dreams need to be realized, but it is always a choice.
Responsibility and gratitude got me where I am today. I am not dead, in a wheelchair, or homeless and on the streets. I am a nurse, a published author and critic, a mother of amazing sons and surrounded by friends who even if they don’t actually get me most of the time, do at least accept me. Sometimes life just drops bananas in my lap, today is one of those bananas.
Namaste my friends.
I love Mary Poppins, the book, the movie, the songs; I just thought I would say that, as I am not sure how many will actually recognize the title as a direct Mary Poppins quote. My day is well begun. Woke up, did snooze till 4:30 instead of 4 so no running the dogs this morning, but I did meditate, do my 20 minutes of yoga, and ride my bicycle. Currently drinking my coffee and writing in my blog. Goal today is to get all my stars.
Yes, I have a star chart for myself. It is taped to the mirror in my bathroom. I took a children’s chore chart from the dollar section at a Michael’s and broke my long range goals into daily tasks and filled them into the lines, focusing on writing the ones I am most likely to “forget” or neglect. Every day I do them, I give myself a little gold star. It works for me. I stay focused on the little choices that build to my greater goals and I give myself positive reinforcement. Maybe it sounds silly to you, but don’t knock it until you have tried it, it’s working for me.
Today is an immunization clinic so my entry is brief, because discipline is important to me, as is punctuality. AND it’s a good thing I exercised my discipline muscles before today or I would be calling in sick! I finally finished rereading all the other Imaginariun Geographica books and finally started the most recent, “Dragons of Winter,” and I don’t want to stop reading; I want to call in sick. I won’t. Nor will I take it in my briefcase today, as it would be tooooooo tempting to bury myself in its story and ignore my reason for being in the Basha’s, namely selling flu shots.
I don’t have a potential star for this act of great fortitude, but I can include it in my “good choices” when I journal tonight. Yup, I do that daily as well. First I write five things I am grateful for, then five times I made a good choice, one random act of kindness, and one thing I wish I had done better or different; then I might ramble a bit. My journals are just meant for me, not leaving some amazing legacy of wisdom, just truly mirroring back to myself that I am incredibly blessed (or lucky depending on your path) and that I have worth, that my choices determine my present, and that I have worth as well as room to grow. This practice has been the best “therapy” I have ever experienced, not that I don’t avail myself of other opportunities to challenge my thinking or beliefs, but to get where we are going, we must first know where we are.
May you travel safely today, may you find peace and joy, may your day be one of health and abundance, may you live today with ease.
Or as the wise master Mary Poppins would say, “May your day be supercalifragilistic-expe-alidocious (sp?).”
Been an exceptionally long time since I have posted a blog, I hope you have missed me almost as much as I have, because I have missed me as well as missing you, my readers. I am currently balancing two jobs, one of them is seasonal and I am still looking forward to the first of my second paychecks but the additional 22 hours a week are already in full swing.
Also I am proud to report my garden is growing even better this season. Check out the pre and post transplant pictures. Sadly my marigolds are pathetic and I will be replanting my greens and probably bringing it inside, due to my own watering malfunction it looks like my collards are dead and my arugula is as well. I mulched thoroughly as our weather is so unpredictable and that is supposed to help. My fall crops are melons, watermelon and cantalope; zucchini; cucumbers; and four different kinds of baking pumpkins. Fingers crossed for a bumper crop. Hey, last season was my first “crop” ever in Arizona! It entailed 1 edible cantalope, 1 edible winter squash, loads of arugula and loads of collards. Onward and upward with BrownThumb Homesteading!
I am also learning to knit lace. My goal is a faroese shawl for two special realtives for Christmas out of hand died silk. No pics because, well, they may read this. So that is happening as well.
And there is some professional writing happening as well. And somewhere in all this I am still working with my two wonderful young male patients, trying to train to do a Sprint Triathlon again, absorbing and processing a rather insistent round of losses in my life, perfecting new vegan recipes, learning to read spanish (want to read poems and literature, still kind of Dick and Jane level) and of course reading for pleasure and seeing friends and family.
These are not meant as excuses, more like a reminder to myself that I do still need to just “BE”, and this blog is part of that. As rare as comments are it seems sometimes I am talking to myself more than anyone else, but my hit log reminds me others do come and peruse. For the record I read blogs regularly as well and rarely comment, usually they are so well written that I feel I have nothing to say.
But here is my challenge to you, leave a comment here with a link to your blog and I will come and comment there as well. And tomorrow I will be posting about some of the blogs I regularly read.
For today I now leave you with a funny story and some pics of my fall garden.
Funny Story with a choose your own ending.
I was busily typing away at my laptop when I decided to demonstrate why one should not drink coffee near their computer. The blinds were partially open and the sliding glass door open to the screen as it was early enough in the morning to catch a wee bit of cross breeze. As the coffee swarmed towards my laptop, I realized the only absorbent material readily available was the towel I was wrapped in which I was currently wrapped…..my dilemna: save my computer or save my dignity ( and the sanity of any poor neighbor who might be in eye shot). You decide, which was more important to me….. 😉