Sunday, June 7, 2015

Blog #185: On Silliness

Things are heavy right now. In the last several weeks there have been so many awful, awful things going on.  It's enough to completely overwhelm anyone.

I'm thankful for those who are passionate about social justice and current events. I believe I have a responsibility to be at least aware of the goings on. However,  when it comes to my social media,  I am INTENTIONALLY trivial,  silly, and nonsensical. I focus on sports, my own daily embarrassments, and funny things that come to mind. I don't often delve into the hard things, the heavy things,  on my various social media outlets.

I do that because my day to day is heavy. I spend every day surrounded by death, grief, and loss. I do my best to take on part of the pain and feel it with the people I see. it's very important for me to have the emotional resources available to be able to fully be there for those I engage with at work. I've found, that in order to do that, part of my self care means limiting my exposure to the dark and heavy outside of work. So, that means that finding reasons to laugh (often at myself) and be ridiculous and being a spot of ridiculousness and fun for others amid links to the tragedies of the day actually helps me to be present in others' moments of grief.

I've had people ask me about both angles - how I can be so silly when I work with such heaviness and how I can be so light on social media when there are so many hard things happening in the world.  The answer is that I have to be. It's not a denial of the hard things but rather a response to them. There is great value in silliness. We as humans aren't built to spend 100% of our time in the acute intensity of difficult feelings. We need to be gentle with ourselves and give ourselves breaks. Silly social media and other ridiculous diversions (kickball, radio shows, book clubs) are my breaks, and I need them.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Blog #184: About my Mom.

Since mother’s day is coming up, I wanted to say a few things about the mom I’m lucky enough to have. There is no one way to really convey how my siblings and I have truly won the Mom Lottery and there isn’t enough time in the world or space on the internet to fit in everything that makes her so amazing. I’m going to try anyway.

When I was about 12 or 13 and helping my mom with dinner I was being careless and accidentally knocked our glass salt shaker to the floor causing it to break even after being told by mom to slow down and be careful.  Mom scolded me, had me clean up the mess, and find a backup salt shaker to use for the meal. I was frustrated and sullen (as 13 year olds are wont to be) but finished helping. When we sat down for dinner, my stepdad asked what happened to the salt shaker, and I braced myself to be further berated for my clumsiness. Mom told him that it had broken and when he said “well how’d that happen?” she did something curious. Mom told him that SHE had dropped it. He just shook his head and the conversation moved on. Now, this is just a very small thing and I don’t know if my mom even remembers it (do you, Mom?) but I have never forgotten it. Because even at 13 I could tell that though the gesture and circumstance were very small, the meaning and lesson behind it were big. In taking ownership of my mistake, my mom taught me about showing grace (not how to be graceFUL… I’m afraid that ship has long sailed for both of us).  

I remember when Will & Kate got married. Mom and I were beside ourselves with excitement. Obviously, London is hours ahead of us so watching the live broadcast would be cumbersome – but we did. I got up and went over at 2:30am so we could be ready to watch the broadcast at 3. Mom had a continental breakfast of bagels and fruit and other goodies set out and the 3 of us (well, 2.5 – Madi fell asleep in the middle) watched and ooohed and awed at the dresses and the hats and the beauty of it all. We still follow the Royal Family very closely and have delighted in both new additions nearly as much as we delight in the additions in our own family (they ARE our own family).

On a day in December every year until we couldn’t anymore due to her move, my  mom and I held Christmas Baking Day. The list of things we wanted to make grew longer and longer each year as we would discover new recipes to try but not be willing to drop any of the classics. We would start in the morning by making the list of what we were making and the ingredients we needed. Then, we would go to the store and get everything including our delivery tins. Inevitably one of us had to make a supplemental store run later in the day for something ridiculous like peppermint extract or buttermilk. Then, we turned on Christmas tunes and baked goodies into the night – it was usually at least 10pm before all was said and done and clean and packed in tins to give away. By then our feet and backs were aching and we vowed we would cut the list down next year.  I still do baking day even though mom’s in TX. My sister and I have made it our own.

After my first serious relationship ended suddenly, I called my mom at 10pm crying. She got dressed and drove over to my apartment and let me just cry while she sat with me.

Goodness… I could go on forever. Prepare for a slew of awesome:
My mom got her college degree AND her Master’s degree while working in a high level position, taking care of a family that included a very young child, and still managed to make it to my soccer games, cross country meets, and choir concerts. She worked her way from the bottom to the top of a company where very few women succeed and then when a transition became inevitable, handled it with her head held high.  She is strong, smart, independent, and hilarious. This high level educated executive often stops to randomly pose with mannequins and has never seen a picture being taken she didn’t want to photo bomb. She drops everything when her family needs her and is FIERCE in protecting and defending the people she loves. This kind, good hearted, loving woman will literally SHRED you if you hurt her family. I don’t know if Mom ever needed to spell out to me that doing the right thing is important because she always just showed me by doing the right thing herself. She taught me to send thank you cards and to apologize well. She taught me to celebrate the joys in life. She threw herself a 50th birthday party because she was grateful for health and life and because she could. She taught me that “We don’t say shut up in this family.” And “The greedy pig gets slaughtered” and “A good cook always cleans up as she goes”. I got her nose, her smile, and her sense of (or lack of) direction and difficulty with time zones.  Every now and then one of us will call the other for the 3rd or 4th time in a day and just say “now what are you doing?” We like to watch Dateline “together” by texting throughout. Because of the example my mom sets, I know about loyalty, unconditional love, and thumping. For my 30th birthday she made a special trip to KC to surprise me with flowers and a dinner with all my family. Phew, overwhelmed yet? Look at this amazing nonsense:

Oh, and she’s like, a total babe. Anytime anyone tells me that I look like my mom I always say thank you or “I’m lucky that way.” Even better, if I say something and someone tells me it sounds like something she would say it’s the best compliment. Thanks for being mom, Mom.

By the way, mom regularly drops weekly wisdom and/or hilarity on her blog - check her out if you haven't. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Blog #183: About Face!

When I was last here things were pretty bleak. Every sugary food looked irresistible and all I wanted in life was wine and cheese. I am now proud to say I made it through what I will now refer to as "the darkest timeline" of my food experiment and am on the other side feeling awesome. For those considering giving it a try, beware days 9-13. If we weren't having such wonderful weather that week I don't know how I would have pushed through.
Breakfast every day.

In other news, I've been feeling pretty great for about a week now but haven't had time to update because if I'm not working or sleeping I am in the kitchen either prepping, cooking, cleaning up after cooking/prepping, or eating my food. Or I'm at the grocery store spending all my money on food. To recap, approximately 75% of my waking non work hours are spent in a food related manner. I haven't quite nailed down a way to be efficient while also not boring myself to death. So, that is a thing I will not miss.
All food prep all thr time

Veggie noodles though

Today is DAY TWENTY ONE. That means by the end of the day I will be 3/4 the way done with my challenge! I've officially entered the home stretch. I am sleeping soundly, waking up refreshed, and maintaining consistent energy throughout the day. I have noticed a visual difference in my body and my clothes are fitting better. I have not had any stomach issues. My favorite thing in the world is bananas sprinkled with cinnamon and dipped in salted cashew butter. Nut butters have to be relegated to "post workout only" or I will eat them by the spoonful straight from the jar. The other day someone brought donuts to a morning meeting and they didn't even SOUND good to me. I have not had any real sugar cravings in a week. I did miss having some wine at book club last night, but it didn't take away from my good time.
I want to eat it all

Can't wait to finish this bad boy and check out results. I'm a little disappointed I couldn't find my tape measure before I started because I'm pretty certain I've lost some significant belly fat. We will just have to let pictures do the talking.
Left: day 0 right: day 10
One more thing, I've been doing the p90x kenpo workout because it's easier on my bum ankle and also super fun and as a motivational thing the trainer, Tony, said about one of the participants "Wesley only bleeds on the inside!" It is distracting to me every time because I ALWAYS think "internal bleeding is pretty serious, Tony. Is Wesley ok?". I just wanted to share that with you.
Post kenpo  workout. Hopefully not internally bleeding.

#onemoreweek #bringit

Monday, March 16, 2015

Blog #182: A Monday Drag (whole 28 update)

I have been raving and raving about how I’ve been feeling on this plan and quite honestly, this is the truth.

But today.

Today is hard. Today I miss EVERY FOOD. This is DESPITE the amazing dinner I made myself last night. Just look at it!

And at this moment not even that amazing dinner sounds good to me. You know what sounds good to me? Donuts. Bagels. Pizza. OH GOD PIZZA. BEER. WINE.

Today I woke up easier than I had been, though I had a bit of a headache. I am coming to the end of my groceries (due to shop Friday) and my planned breakfast (2 hard boiled eggs, half an avocado, and a couple clementines) did NOT sound remotely appetizing. I basically choked it down. I packed my planned lunch (also didn’t sound appetizing) and went to work.

Then, in one of our meetings, someone brought these amazing custom donuts from Cosentinos. There was Red Velvet, chocolate chip, giant glazed… THEY LOOKED LIKE THE BEST THING THAT COULD EVER HAPPEN TO ME. I wasn’t hungry but I wanted one of those donuts more than anything. I was still thinking about them an hour later. My black coffee and water chugging were doing nothing to help. I knew better than to cave to the sugar craving with a Larabar – because though it is compliant the motivation for it would not be in the spirit of what I’m trying to do.

Right next to the refrigerator where I get my water and store my lunch, there are currently 2 bags of bagels, a box of peanut butter patties and a box of lemonades (2 of my top 3 girl scout cookie choices). I see them every time I go to fill up my water bottle. They speak to me. They say “Marissa, look! All of your favorite carbs and sugar!”

Today is hard. And I am officially out of eggs.

Luckily it’s a beautiful day and I got to be out in the 80+ degree weather being active and allowing my body to use it’s real fuel instead of a bunch of sugar for my workout before I get back to lead a grief recovery group (and thus get a nice reminder of what’s REALLY hard… because “having” to avoid all the yummy things I want is not really HARD.)

#Ihatemondays #nomoreeggsplease #day9

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Blog #181: A day in the life and why am I even doing this?

Hi Friends. At the end of the day today I will be a solid 1 week and 1/4 of the way through my Whole 30 (preshortened to 28 for Easter) challenge.

So, why am I doing this?

Officially: Curiosity, the desire to reset my system from sugar/processed food overload, wanting to feel better and have more consistent energy.

Honestly: I wanted to lose the 5-7lb of winter weight gain so my pants wouldn't be snug anymore.

There, it's out there. Initially 100% of my motivation for this challenge was weight related. It's not like anyone is surprised. I have never had the greatest relationship with weight and body image.


Nearly immediately upon researching and starting the challenge, I realized that it is about SO. MUCH. MORE. And after getting deep into the book I realized that not ONLY is it about more but weight is probably the LEAST important thing I should be focusing on when I am trying to stay motivated. In fact, the way my view of food is changing will probably be the best thing I can get out of this experiment.

So, now, I'm really doing this because my body needs and deserves nourishment and respect. If adding sugars/grains/legumes/dairy on a regular basis doesn't get me closer to that, then I don't want to add them. And, 7 days in, I'm actually feeling really good about it and still sort of waiting for the other shoe to drop. I'm NOT starving myself and in fact I'm not even counting calories or worrying about the amount of any of these good foods that I'm eating.

Just to show you how I'm NOT starving, here is a day in the life (I kept track on a notebook yesterday)

Breakfast was 2 eggs scrambled with sliced onions/squash/zucchini and half an apple with sunbutter (sunflower seed butter - like peanut butter without the health downside)
Lunch was a 2 cup salad of spinach and baby greens, carrots, tomato, zucchini and squash, peppers, chicken dressed with olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper, on the side a hard boiled egg, and 2 clementines
2:30pm: I ate a handful of mixed nuts (almonds/cashews and other tree nuts) and a clementine as a snack so I could have energy for a workout.
Later I went on a little over an hour alternating brisk walk/jog/run (I like to run hard up big hills) and then stopped at the grocery store for some supplies at the end of the workout in a couple hours.
Post workout I had a banana and some sunbutter
An hour later I ate dinner - a grass fed ground beef patty, half a tomato, a ton of green beans sauteed in EVOO.
*Throughout day: at least a gallon of water consumed - this is not on the plan, just a continuation of one of my only good health habits before I started

I haven't had any crazy cravings, heavy fatigue, or any pissiness that were any different than they would have been at the time of month that I chose to start the challenge.

Also, because food choices can be weirdly divisive and sometimes seem like a judgement, please know this: my choices are just simply that - my choices. They are not judgments on your choices and in fact have nothing to do with you. We're all living in a way that makes sense to us and trying to make things work how we can so if you're fine with your choices than so am I (though if you take my choices to be judgment on your choices that tells me that maybe you AREN'T so fine with your choices - I can't help you with that)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Blog #180: Whole 28 Day 5

I am finishing up day 5 of my #whole28.  According to the time line on the whole 30 website,  days 2 and 3 were "hangover" days and yesterday & today were supposedly "kill all the things" days. However,  I've experienced very little of either of those things. In fact, aside from an occasional headache and continued difficulty waking up in the morning,  I'm still largely in the day 1 "so what's the big deal?" mode. I am attributing this to 2 things:
1. The genesis of this amazing spring weather
2. My incessant water habit covering a multitude of past diet sins.

I do hope that I'm doing it right. I worry a little that if I don't hate life enough it's not working - thanks, diet culture. "If you don't absolutely want to jump into traffic by day 4 YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG"

Because I am obsessive and ridiculous,  I have purchased the book written by the Whole30 creators and have been soaking it in like a sponge reading about why I'm doing what I'm doing. You guys, it makes so much sense and food effects so much more than how we look or what we weigh or our stomach symptoms AND WHY AREN'T MORE PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT THIS?  It's so logical and when pointed out and it seems so obvious that it makes me feel like I have basically been jumping up and down with my eyes closed and arms up yelling "I'm not really here!  I'm not really here! " like unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt in order to have never had it click for me. (Side note,  if you haven't watched that amazing show on netflix yet I pronounce YOU ridiculous.  Pull yourself together)

I admit that I am fully on board. I'm drinking the Kool-aid.  Well, I'm not drinking kool-aid... that wouldn't be whole 30 compliant.  But I'm drinking the black coffee.  I believe.  I love what I'm eating and I don't feel badly about it after. I really believe I am investing in a healthier,  happier me. And I'm already thinking of how I can make these choices sustainable for the long term once the experiment is over.

But now I'm tired and need to wind down for bed... so maybe my next phase is coming early.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Blog #179: Whole 28 Day 1

Today is the first day of the rest of my life.

And also the first day of my Whole 28 challenge.

I've totally jumped right into it and had some delicious meals as well as spent considerable time, money, and effort on setting myself up to succeed during my first week.

Today I woke up pretty well rested after having given up any notions of having a night out last night (Hashtag this is 30) I went to Hyvee and spent a solid hour looking closely at ingredients. I made a full big breakfast of  eggs with peppers and onions and a banana and half avocado. I though... I can DO it!  I got all motivated and prepped my meals for the whole week. The. I went to meet my family at Power Play and saw, in bright neon signs "FUNNEL CAKES! NACHOS! PIZZA!" I promptly walked back outside with mom and we ate our whole30 approved Hyvee Salad Bar salads and fruit.

It somehow wasn't the same.

Anyhow feeling good on day 1. Here's what happened:
Grocery defeat = 2 trips

Big breakfast with a side of caffeine

Lunch this week - so many veggies

Thanks Hyvee salad bar

I didn't think I'd be hungry at dinner because I did breakfast and lunch so late but I was so I ate one of my premade dinners of ground turkey with onions,  peppers, zucchini,  and squash and a side of green beans and potatoes.  For dessert I had a single serve baggie of frozen berries. I forgot to take a pic but I made 6 of them so I am sure there will be another chance. 

I may already have a sugar withdrawal headache. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Blog #178: I'm (sort of) doing the Whole 30.

I'm doing a 28 day version of the Whole 30 challenge. It's 28 days because I need to be done by Easter and previous engagements prevent me from starting until tomorrow and if I wait until it makes sense to do it for 30 days I won't have another chance until like August and I'm feeling pretty worn down and stomach achey lately so I would rather address it now. I'm going to try to avoid being all over my social media outlets about it by blogging my experience here. So, if you're curious about how things are going or want to read about my experience as it happens, this is the place.

You can read all about the whole 30 at

Today is day 0 for me meaning the challenge starts tomorrow, so, naturally today was ALL BETS OFF. I ate a bagel for breakfast, personal pizza for lunch with cookie dessert, and enjoyed good comfort food birthday party including cupcakes. I've also hit the latte train pretty hard the last couple days because dairy is out starting tomorrow and all my coffee will have to I am usually the girl that puts a fair amount of snickerdoodle flavored creamer and 2-3 splenda packets in the coffee each morning so this is what I foresee to be the hardest part. I'll still need the coffee though, so black it is.

Tonight was supposed to be all about saying goodbye to all the stuff I can't have but after working 7-3, braving an outdoor mall during the first warm day in KC in weeks, and partying HARD toy instrument style with my niece and 4 awesome nephews I am so spent that my last hurrah is a glass of wine and bed before midnight.  I've taken my before pic and weight and I know how my clothes and body feel now so hopefully in 28 days I'll have some tangible evidence of improved health. Wish me luck!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Blog #177: Annual Defense of Valentine's Day

(Written after eating a heart shaped bagel and while listening to cheesy pop love songs)

It's Valentine's Day! Or, as singles of all ages tend to revert to calling it "Singles Awareness Day". However, I have hardly been aware of my own single status this weekend due to having filled my social calendar to the max with opportunities to spend time loving the people I love. It started with a Valentine's Eve date with the coolest big kids and sweetest baby girl ever to be:

There, glad to get those gratuitous proud aunt pictures out of the way. There will be more after tonight because I have a very special dinner date with my bro & sis in law and 2 favorite single digit boys. "Aunt Riss" is my favorite of titles and the one of which I'm the most proud, despite having done nothing really to earn it. Tomorrow, for a post Valentine's Day celebration, I'm having chinese buffet lunch and seeing a movie with my Grandma. Love is all around.

I feel like everyone has a lot to say about Valentine's Day. It's one of those days that is pretty polarizing. (I blog about it nearly annually) People who DO have that special someone feel an inordinate amount of pressure to demonstrate their love one way or the other and people who DON'T have a significant other feel pissy and hyper aware of their lack of romantic love.  I would like to get down on one knee and propose that we see things just a pinch differently.
While there's certainly nothing wrong with wanting and hoping to have a special someone in life, it's ridiculous to think that life is somehow incomplete until that box is checked. The problem here is in the equating of "singleness" with "loneliness". As one who is currently dateless, I feel the need to point out that I am definitely not lacking in the "people I love" department. Celebrating that love, to me, sounds like fun! Celebrating anything, to me, sounds like fun. If it doesn't sound fun to you, that's cool too.  

It's just a day - not a judgement on your life.

And, if you accept that simple fact, it should be easy to just let it pass without making a point of being negative about it, regardless of your relationship status, yes? 

For the record: yes, it is basically a commercial holiday designed to get people to spend money, much like mothers day, fathers day, halloween, etc. This is not worth pointing out because it's not news to anyone, and it's silly to use such a thing as an excuse to be bitter. Who cares? Life is both short and long. It's too short to waste time feeling negatively unnecessarily. It is too long to develop patterns of negativity to continue for its duration. I'm going to live life being ridiculous and silly and prone to enjoying pointless things because it's much better to be remembered for loving than hating.

If you need me, I'm spending my day at work listening to love songs and decorating cards to hand out to the people I'm lucky enough to have in my life. LOVE IS GREAT.

Roses are Red.
Violets are Blue.
This blog post was long.