How FaceTime and wall to wall carpeting are saving my life (at least today)

It’s cold here.

Like, really cold.

I thought it got cold where we live, but Northwest Washington has us beat by a whole 22F (at this exact moment; I just checked to compare the two cities).  It might even snow this week.  GULP!  I know there are other places in the world that are much, much colder, but it’s our current reality and we are adjusting to learn how to live with the chill.  At least for a few more days until my husband returns from overseas we head back to the surf and sun of the Northern Baja peninsula.  Where it’s still cold…but not that cold.

Couple the cold with the late sunrises (7:33 AM) and early sunsets (5:18 PM) and it can seem like shadows and wind chill rule our waking hours.  There are a few key things that are helping save my life these days and adding a sunny, silver lining to all those clouds .  They might seem a bit commonplace to deserve an entire blog post unto themselves, but when it’s making that much of a difference they are definitely worth mentioning.

Wall to Wall Carpet

Yes.  I just named a synthetic fiber ground covering as the number one thing that is saving my life right now.  As heads are scratched around the interwebs, allow me to explain.  Our house does not have carpet.  Nay, it doesn’t have any floor covering to speak of except cold, white tiles.  Which are f r e e z i n g  cold in winter, even in our moderately temperate climate.  Our walls are concrete block which are covered by the thinnest coat of plaster (no sheetrock here!) and a hastily applied paint job.  It is impossible to properly and thoroughly heat a house that is made of solid rock.  Trust us, we’ve tried.  We’ve bought space heaters.  We have hot water bottles and heating pads.  I leave the oven door open after baking to let the dissipating heat radiate through the downstairs.  We have a portable propane gas heater that takes the chill off if it’s run for an hour or so, but leaving an open flame in our main living space (or to run all night in a bedroom God forbid) doesn’t mix well with three kids ages six and under.  It stays cold, period.

Now, put us on a few airplanes and fly us a thousand miles north and what do we have?  Colder weather, of course, but we also discover carpet.  This lovely, soft, cushioned, heat-retaining substance that caresses our feet and covers our floors and softens our falls.  Carpet has been a game changer for us on this trip, so much so that I don’t dread getting out of bed in the morning and haven’t worn my ‘house slippers’ (which I brought with me on this trip) when I walk around inside.  It’s the most mundane of items to most people, but it’s number one on my list today.

 

FaceTime

With my husband overseas and 15 hours in the future, we’ve been relying on technology to keep us in touch.  The kids ask to “FaceTime Daddy!” every day but we’ve only been able to connect twice.  It has been precious to see the kids’ faces light up when they see Daddy appear on the screen.  Of course they fight and scramble over who holds the phone and then tears ensue, which slightly ruins the whole purpose of the video call.  Regardless of sibling squabbles, I’ve come to appreciate the gift of technology and the instant boost it gives to a relationship during our time apart these past few days.

 

All the Other Things

Here are a few other life-lines that are floating around me these days:

Wood-burning fireplaces.  My parent’s house has one and I might have single-handedly contributed to the deforestation of the planet this week.  Worth it.

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Cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents.  When we live far away from family, time together is special and cherished.

Utility services that work, and work fast.  The power went out the other night.  I was prepared for the world to end.  And then, it came back on.  Just like that.  I basically witnessed a miracle.

A day to indulge.  Yes, yes I did.  I had dreamed of it for weeks, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

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This bakery is a local legend and absolutely lives up to it’s reputation.  Also, mine was the brownie in the corner.  That’s it.  Promise.

Books.  No further explanation needed.

Cold water from the tap.  The freezing temperatures mean ice-cold water straight out of the sink.  We are used to drinking room temperature water from a filtered, purchased water jug.  It’s been a treat.

Sisters who fly across the country just to help.  My younger sis made the trip south for less than 24 hours just to help us make the trip north to my parent’s house.  It made all the difference.

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It may be cold, dark, and wet most days, but my life is full of light.  These little things add up to make a big difference.  Especially to my sensitive little toes every morning.


Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy

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Fitness Challenge – finished!

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I did it!  Our organization’s annual Fitness Challenge is in the books and under my belt.  As both a participant and one of the organizers of the Challenge, this month was full of all things nutrition, exercise, knowledge, and accountability.  I’ve only participated once before, but since I love to read and happened to recommend a book to the leader of the 2016 Challenge, my name was brought up during the planning stages for this year’s event as someone who could take the reigns and make it happen.  Reading takes you places, people!

For the month of January, we committed to exercise 180 minutes a week, follow a nutrition plan of our choice (I added some qualifiers to ensure it was sustainable, measurable, and nourishing), read one of four books that were vetted by yours truly, and be accountable once a week to check in with our progress.  Those who completed the entire Challenge win a gift card and enter into a grand prize drawing for an iPad mini.  Motivation and incentive always help.

My exercise was centered around Sarah Beth Yoga and Yoga With Adrienne‘s monthly challenges, which happened to coincide perfectly with our own challenge.  My weekly exercise totals were:

Week One: 215 minutes

Week Two: 203.5 minutes

Week Three: 180 minutes (this was the week of the crazy storms, my husband traveling, and the surprise anniversary getaway, which might have contributed to the fact I barely reached my goal)

Week Four: 202 minutes

I read QBQ! which is a short but powerful read.  My thoughts on the book can be found here.  The other options were The Power of Habit, Food Rules, and The First 20 Minutes.  There are so many books on wellness and nutrition out there, but one of the qualifiers was that they needed to be available in Spanish and English.  One of the blessings of living in a bilingual community is seeking out resources that everyone can access.  These four titles fit the bill and provided quality information on various aspects of how to live a fit life.

I am definitely glad I participated.  I am also glad I had a hand in organizing the Challenge.  Any chance I get to spread my “gospel” of alternate nutrition to the masses…mwahahaa!  At least I didn’t force this book on people…they may have run away screaming! Haha!

Now time for some lay-it-all-out-there truth telling:  I have been dreaming of chocolate cake and cheeseburgers for about three weeks now.  My nutrition plan was no added refined sugar, no refined grains, and no eating after 8:30 PM.  For the entire month.  My body feels great and I’m proud to say I made it all 31 days.  But let’s just say I’ve been scoping out the best bakeries in town and have solid plans to hit them up ASAP tomorrow.  As one of my favorite fitness ladies says, one day of indulgences won’t side track a healthy lifestyle, just like one day of nutritious eating won’t give you a six pack.

Over Easy – a simple lunch

Some days I’m not up for a huge lunch, but still want to nourish myself instead of filling up on, oh, chips and salsa.

Here is what I tossed together today:


Brown rice cooked with a bit of salt and olive oil (when I have bone broth I often use it as the cooking liquid).  I’ve used this recipe’s technique for cooking brown rice (just follow the steps in the first paragraph) for years and it comes out perfect every time.

An over easy egg.

Spinach pesto (spinach + a few snap peas + olive oil + lemon juice + Parmesan cheese + pecans + salt and pepper.  Blend until smooth and adjust seasonings to your taste).

Snipped green onion.


Simple, filling, and nutritious.

Get out of the Funk

Ever since our return from Washington this summer (a glorious three week trip to visit family and friends in August), I can’t seem to shake this funk.  All the cliches apply – it’s like a cloud hanging over my head, or an itch I can’t scratch, or moving through molasses. My attitude hits the bottom of the barrel, mornings are for rolling over and ignoring the snooze, and apathy wins out more often then I’d like to admit.

Remember how I was rockin’ it this spring and summer?  Up at 5:30 AM, yoga, reading, writing, projects.  Setting the day on its course by caring for me first so I could care for those around me.  Finishing my day with reading, heading to bed when my body told me to, adding supplements and routines that nourished my body and soul.

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Now?  Ugh.  It all makes me want to roll my eyes and pull the covers over my head.

I don’t know when the switch happened, when I stopped caring and started giving up.  My guess is it happened sometime around my neck injury (more on that to come in a blog post soon).  Suddenly it all seemed so frivolous.  Who cares if I wake up hours before everyone else?  Who cares if I pound out words on the keyboard each morning?

I’m beginning to see that it’s not a matter of who cares, but a matter of my choice.

Enough with the wallowing.  It’s time to choose.

What exactly am I choosing?  This:

  • Wake up at 5:30 AM.  There’s nothing magical about that time, it simply provides sufficient mental and physical space for me to prioritize and care for myself before the world awakes from its slumber.
  • Gentle movements first thing.  Yoga and pilates are still my go-to, with modifications to care for my healing neck.  Doing them right away when I wake up helps ensure I make time for them, instead of putting it of for “some time later” (which is code for “never”).
  • Reading, study, writing, and projects.  I’m currently reading through a book on forgiveness, journaling my answers to the prompt questions, and choosing to reawaken the habit of writing on this blog a few times a week.  I’ve also taken on a few projects from the campus that I can devote some time to each morning.
  • Oils.  It may seem silly but a consistent, disciplined approach to using and applying essential oils seems to help me.  Ones for immunity, calming, and hormone balance are part of my daily routine.  Diffusing fresh, citrusy oils seem to lift my mood and set the tone for the day as well.
  • Rest in the middle of the day.  When the kids nap and rest in the afternoon, our house shuts down and I go right along with it.  From about 2:15 PM until 3:00 PM, I’m flat on my back in our bed, reading, resting, or simply enjoying the dark, quiet room.  My HSP personality craves for those refueling stops during the day, and even though I’m often tempted to just push through and get more things done, I’m calmer and happier for the remainder of the day when I do take time to simply rest.
  • Say yes to real foods, especially veggies.  Stay away from refined sugars, grains, and dairy.  Start my day with a huge bowl of plants, greens, and healthy fats.  That last one is a kicker for me – I love me some dairy!  I’ve learned to tune into my body and realize that the stomach rumbles and trip to the bathroom after eating a lot of dairy might just be related.  I’m going to give it a break for a week or two and see how my body responds.  The sugar and grains, though, are a no-brainer.  They mess with my emotions, trigger me to overeat, and leave me feeling unsatisfied and jittery.  Yes, there is grace for those days, but more often than not I want to chose accordingly.
  • Close the kitchen at 8:30 PM.  No eating past that time, and if I feel tired I can head to bed instead of pursue the options in the fridge.
  • In bed, reading, by 9:30 PM.  My eyes start to close pretty soon after I lay down with a good book and I get enough hours of sleep to make a 5:30 AM doable.

Back to that same old mantra: it’s my choice.  I can’t control the world around me, but I always have authority over how I respond.  My internal domain is mine and mine alone.  I don’t like how I’m feeling.  I don’t like kowtowing to apathy.  I don’t like the indifference I flaunt towards the things I know give me life.  Time to get out of the funk.

Well, hello there pretty little breakfast bowl


I’m kinda digging this unbreakfast bowl habit I’ve created. Earlier this year I had it an epiphany when I realized that breakfast doesn’t have to be limited to traditional, sugary, refined carb-loaded food. It could simply be “the first meal of the day.” So, I now toss every veggie possible in the skillet, load it with healthy fats, and top it with seeds, nuts, and some type of bean, hummus, avocado, or other creamy goodness.  Breakfast for adults who can eat whatever they want.

How many veggies…

Today’s breakfast is one I’m really proud of – packed full of veggies and nutrition and tastes yum!

For the kids:

  • Breakfast burrito with crock pot refried beans and oven roasted potatoes
  • Apple-carrot sauce (half organic and all homemade)
  • Purple power smoothie (banana, carrot, mango, blackberry, raspberry, Greek yogurt, beet powder, date syrup, and water)


For me:

  • Veggie bowl (kale, chard, spinach, purple cabbage, zucchini, hummus, chia seed, green onion, and garlic)
  • Same purple power smoothies as the kids


I’ve done my part…now they get to do theirs and (hopefully!) eat it.

Smooth Transitions

I decided to shake things up a bit and try some yoga in the mornings instead of Pilates.  I’m still a Pilates girl at heart – don’t fret! – but after six months of the same videos I was feeling unmotivated to get up and work out in the mornings.  I valued my health over routine (crazy to admit, but it’s true!) and knew that I could easily use this apathetic lull to fall into disrepair and discouragement.  It’s been six months of steady, good, healthy progress and the fear of losing all of that helped me come to my senses.  Yes, I’m a routine lover at heart, but sometimes even the most list following, plan making ones among us need a change of scenery.

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One of the phrases that the instructor repeats often throughout the practice (is that what it’s called?!?) is “smooth transitions.”  When we move from one pose to the next, or move through a series of poses, she pipes up with a tidbit like, “Remember, stay smooth through your transitions.”  Ugh – she’s right!  It’s so easy to focus on the following pose and blast right through the transition, losing focus, form, and strength just to get to the next thing.

What a timely word of wisdom for me.

I struggle with transition.  Like I said: rules, lists, plans, prepared expectations – that’s my love language, baby!  Tell me what’s going to happen and then make it happen and I’m a happy camper.

But, that doesn’t happen.  Rarely, if ever.  Especially living where we live, doing what we do, with the infestation of tiny people that call us parents.  Things change.  We course correct0.  I struggle.

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As I flail in the midst of yet another change, the mantra that floats to the surface is, “Just hang on.  Ride the waves.  Get to solid ground.  Once you get your bearings you’ll be just fine.” (what’s with all these nautical references?!?!  Hah!)

What about those transitions, though?  What’s the phrase… the only thing constant is change?  It’s quite true around here.  Do I suck it up and carry a chip on my shoulder, taking up an offense every time something changes at the last minute?  As if my life and my priorities should be the axis from which the world spins?  Or…or…

…grace in the transition.

…focus in the transition.

…beauty in the transition.

…purpose in the transition.

…strength in the transition.

As I’ve bumbled through these past few mornings of yoga (much like I bumble through life) it’s struck me how the transition sets me up for success.  How I lead myself from one pose to the next prepares me for a solid, engaged, and present movement.  Rushing through the transition to arrive at the next pose is basically cheating myself.  I rob myself of that subtle shift from one thing to the next.  In the shift, in the transition, in that subtle moment where I think I might topple face first onto my mat into a heap of quivering flesh…I can choose to snap back to focus, to ground myself, to fully connect.

Smooth transitions.  In life.  In yoga.  I’ll keep practicing.