Thursday, April 28, 2016

Embracing "Girly" & Discovering Strength

Thanks, Amanda, for hosting TOL.
Teaching middle school serves as a daily reminder that those years are rarely solidly good. When you ask people what the best years of their lives were, does anyone ever say middle school? We wandered the halls hoping not to be noticed - or to be noticed by the right people - unsure of who we really were or if anyone would like us if they knew the real us.

If you were anything like me, you dealt with this anxiety by pretending to be above it all. Middle school is all about masks. I thought I was singularly unattractive and unoriginal, so I went the route of pretending to embrace that, and I forced myself into a kind of tomboy mold.
(I looked for pictures of these years to share with you guys, but I seem to remember avoiding cameras at all costs, and I must have burned all photo evidence of those years. Good thing Britt had this photo to share.)
I wore giant T-shirts and huge, baggy jeans - anything to hide my body. My hair was in a perpetual bun. The only makeup I used was worn to cover acne. When cotillions and dances came along, I wore my pretty dresses and heels with the grace of a newborn giraffe.

I developed a shell. I wanted to be tough, and I wanted people to know I was tough. In doing so, I turned away from all things girly. Even when I began to enjoy "girly" things - the color pink, makeup, dresses, etc - I'd try to be ironic about it.

But over the last few years, I've learned to love being girly. More accurately, I've learned to embrace the complex parts of my personality. I'm tough, yeah, but I'm girly too. Those things aren't mutually exclusive. In fact, over time I've learned that girls - women - are tougher than we let on. We might hide our steel under smooth skin and lipstick, but we're no less strong for our soft exteriors.
Feeling strong and girly at Gasparilla with Kristin.
I've come to realize that accepting who we are and having the courage to reveal every aspect of ourselves is what makes us tough. Hiding behind a tough exterior makes you seem strong, but masks are brittle. They crack. They're not meant to last.

Living as you are and as you want to be...that makes you actually strong. And personally, I don't think there's anything better. When you're strong, you can care for others, show compassion, experience joy, go after a dream, work hard, stand up, fight...

If I can be anything, I want to be strong.

This ended up being a totally different kind of post than I planned. I really wanted to rant about how women can kick butt even in a running skirt. I guess there was more to explore than I thought!

How do you define strength?
Do you consider yourself girly?
Are there any parts of your personality that you aren't comfortable with, or try to hide?


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Weekly Workouts 4/18-4/24

Remember back in January when I decided 2016 would be the year of simplicity, shorter distances, and speed work? Well, I've finally found my groove. It only took four months! To be fair, running the full in February did kind of throw off my original plans, so I'm not feeling bad about finally finding my stride in late April.

Monday: Two Nike Training Club workouts for a total of 20 minutes of ab/core work. I was proud of this workout because Monday was a total cluster - it was the day we sold the Prius and had to go to the bank and the DMV directly after school, so I was starving and exhausted when we got home after 6pm - and I had to do my workout without a buddy. Despite the craziness, I got it done!
Tuesday: 8 x .33 repeats with upper body during recovery with Elizabeth. Eventually maybe we'll move to a real track and do more traditional mileage for this workout, but the circle is working well for us right now.
I did a slightly better job with paces this time around.
Wednesday: Game day at the Y courtesy of school (20 minutes of outdoor relay games, 20 minutes of Zumba, and 20 minutes of pilates) followed by T25 legs. OUCH.
I've never done Zumba before but I totally loved it! I hope to work it into my schedule.
Thursday: Rest.

Friday: 4.12 miles alone. I pushed the pace and definitely felt it in my inner thighs, which were still sore from Wednesday, and I ended up needing a couple walk breaks. I think I'm acclimating to the warmer temperatures, and I was fatigued because I'm starting my period, but overall this run felt good.
I really liked my outfit that day and wanted to capture the entire thing. The Lioness skirt in Free Love is seriously my favorite new piece of running gear ever.
It felt nice to push it even though I couldn't hold the pace consistently. I'm enjoying my workouts feeling hard.

Saturday: Rest and Passover. I indulged during Seder, as is to be expected, but I didn't even feel a little bad about it. I know that food-guilt isn't healthy and having a day of indulgence after two weeks of balanced eating is totally fine. I was worried I'd feel bad, but I didn't!

Sunday: Somehow I managed to roll out of bed and go collect Elizabeth for our first "long" run in awhile. We did six miles at a nice steady pace and I enjoyed pushing the distance again. I'd like to get my Friday runs up to about six miles and my weekend runs around 8-10; I feel like I'm on track to get there pretty soon.
My eyeballs look tired because I was beyond exhausted. After our run I went home and napped for two hours!
Also, on Sunday around mile 1.5 I needed a bathroom so we stopped by a church that has outdoor access to its bathrooms. The women's room was locked so I used the men's. And I just need to take a moment here to comment on how ridiculous it is that that would be considered illegal in certain places in the States these days.

Today I'm linking up with Erika, Marcia, and Patty for TOTR!
Did you have a good week?


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Passover 2016

One reason I love hosting Passover is because it makes me feel like an adult. Despite having a mortgage, car payments, and career, I often feel like I'm only pretending to be a grown up. (Surely I'm not the only one who feels this way!) Cooking a big meal and having family over for the holiday makes me feel like I've hit an adulthood milestone.

Like last year, I decided to make a brisket for our main dish. I lost the recipe I used last year but luckily had been pretty detailed in how I cooked it in that blog post, so the blog saved the day!
This year I couldn't find one 5-pound brisket so I got two 2.8 pounders...We have tons of leftovers!
For next year's self: chop a large onion, quarter ~10 tiny potatoes, and scatter a single loose layer of baby carrots in the roasting pan. Put the brisket on top, fat cap up. Mix 8oz tomato sauce and 3/4 container of beef broth in a bowl with Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Pour over the brisket. Cover tightly with foil. Stick it in a 300F oven for about 5.5 to 6 hours (this year I did 5.5), basting every two. Take out an hour before serving to rest.
The table.
My grandparents sent us a centerpiece again this year, but the florist delivered it too early. I was worried it wouldn't last until Seder, so the florist sent us a second one! Our table looked very lovely.
The good stuff.
Mom made her usual perfect charoset, and Steph made GF matzah ball soup. The matzah balls were so fluffy and perfect; the best we've had since I was diagnosed with Celiac! And Manischewitz makes gluten free matzoh now, too! Passover has never been so easy!
For dessert I made my usual flourless chocolate cake, which I'd been looking forward to all week.
The most I can say for this health-wise is that it's full of protein - the batter takes 6 eggs! But it sure is delicious.
Our Seders are short and sweet - 20-30 minutes from the Haggadah and then dinner is served! They used to be longer when we lived up north and had lots of family over, but now we like to get down to the good stuff as quickly as possible.
The fam :)
We made Gordon join the picture-taking this year, too.
It was a good evening; all the food turned out successfully and it was wonderful to have everyone over. The best part is that I'll be eating delicious leftovers for the next week!

Which holidays or family traditions do you host?
What's the biggest/most difficult meal you've cooked?


Friday, April 22, 2016

New News & a New Recipe

One of my major causes of stress over the past couple weeks has been my car. The Prius served me well but as the odometer ticked over 100k miles, I knew it was time to move on.

Selling a car is a total hassle, and I ended up being without one for about a week. Luckily, Elizabeth lives so close that she was willing to drive me to school while I needed a ride.

Anyway, the Prius is sold now, and I miss it - and my awesome stickers - but it's been replaced by a lovely younger lady. (Isn't that always the way?)
Before I even thought about replacing the car, I was planning out how to find good replacement stickers!
Meet Lola!
Isn't she pretty?!
I know, I know...Matt and I both have Minis now and that makes us that weird matchy-matchy couple, but we have our reasons!
Matt's Countryman is Lola's big brother!
Matt is a car fanatic, so he was particular about finding a car that wouldn't depreciate in value too much over the years, would be good on gas, and would be fun to drive. We also wanted a hatchback. The new car is for me, so obviously I got the final say, but it's hard to argue with a baby blue Mini!

In other news, since I posted about my improved eating habits (I've been true to my healthier-food lifestyle for two full weeks now!), I wanted to share a couple recipes. These are actually more for myself so I can find them again when I need them, but maybe they'll work for someone else, too.

Here's the first of a couple I think I'll share over the next few weeks:

Zucchini canoes...or something. Full disclosure: I saw a photo of this on Pinterest and based my recipe on that one, but I have no idea if I made mine similarly because I didn't actually read the recipe because I hate being forced to sign in to Pinterest to see the pins. It's a principle thing.

These were seriously tasty, healthy, and cost-effective! Honestly, I could probably eat three or four "canoes" but I only had one zucchini on hand while I was experimenting. Next time I'll know better.

I was really bored of chicken for awhile there, but I rediscovered my love for it when I started baking it with broth. It keeps it really juicy and tender, so I don't have to struggle to get it down. Who knew?

What are you driving right now?
Do you name your cars? I never have before, but the minute we bought Lola and I got behind the wheel, I just felt the name come to me! Her doggy counterpart must have inspired me!
Share a recipe you've been loving lately!


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Dear Self: Remember this feeling

During my trip to Atlanta at the end of spring break, I wasn't making the smartest food choices. Because the conference center had limited food options, I ate barbecue and Mexican for lunch and snacked on protein bars. And let's not even get into our dinner choices and airport meals.
A four-course meal at the Melting Pot? Sure, why not...I totally won't regret that!
Immediately following my return from ASCD, we had the week from hell at school, and I responded by unapologetically comfort eating and crawling into bed early every night without any kind of workout in between.

During that week and a half, I was bloated, gassy, lethargic, irritable, and over-tired.

This week, I made up my mind to pick healthier meals and snacks and to stop lying to myself about how poorly I was eating. I spent the week focusing on choosing nutritious foods...
...and I'm feeling energetic and downright svelte. My mood has lifted, too. 

So this is just a quick reminder to myself: food choices make a difference. I don't even honestly care about being healthier or looking better. I'm not paying attention to calories. I'm just trying to put better things in my body.

It's literally about allowing myself to enjoy life, because I'm not happy on the days I'm bloated and irritable. Who is?
Healthy GF pizza: thin crust, just the right amount of cheese, ground turkey, zucchini, and tomatoes!
Is five minutes of flavor - that pop tart, ice cream, plate of nachos, mug cake - worth days of discomfort? I've finally decided that the answer is "no." I guess this is just part of getting older; I can't eat everything I want and feel perfectly fine afterwards.
Healthy, balanced, and not a nacho in sight!
I've never really liked the "food as fuel" mentality, so this is the first time I'm actually seeing how these choices affect me and make a difference in my daily life.
My first attempt at anything resembling meal planning: four days worth of salads for lunch, already made and ready for work!
I have no problem saying no to gluten, but junk food is hard for me to turn down. Snacks are my weakness, so I've filled the fridge and pantry with healthy, easy-to-grab choices. I'm hoping that taking a moment to reflect on the obvious difference I'm feeling will help me make smarter choices from here on out. At least most of the time! (After all, I'm already planning to fully enjoy Passover this weekend, and that means dessert!)

What are you favorite healthy snacks?
What's your favorite splurge food?
Do you have trouble saying no to unhealthy food choices?


Monday, April 18, 2016

Seriously Proud

When I first met Matt, there were a few things that made him stand out from other fraternity bros I'd come across at Stetson. One was his super cool 1968 Chevelle...the other was the fact that he was an artist.

Despite being a writer, I'd never actually dated anyone who was also into any kind of creative outlet, and I was immediately drawn to the fact that Matt was. I loved that we could connect on that artistic level, and I was in awe of the fact that he could envision a piece, draw it, and then execute it.
Matt creating "The Oasis" in Ki Woon's studio.
The final product.
He was majoring in marketing so that he could hopefully someday market himself as an artist; the ceramics professor at Stetson didn't have anything to teach him because his skill had surpassed what instruction Stetson could provide (thanks to studying under a Korean master potter in high school).
(This short video features Matt's guide, Ki Woon Huh.)

After we graduated, the economy was in the pits so Matt started his own business, but we've always kept an eye open for a chance for him to get back to ceramics. In the meantime, Matt worked with the local art league whenever possible; his love of art has never faded.
In 2011, one of Matt's pieces, "Smoldering", was accepted into a local art exhibit.
The opportunity to open a studio and gallery finally came around when a local artists' cottage became available nearby. Matt applied alongside dozens of others for the cottage, and the city chose him from among all the applicants! Now, he'll be able to work on his art and give back to the community on a regular basis.
Kickstarter doesn't allow its campaigns to raise money for charitable causes, but after Matt's campaign ends, he'll be donating proceeds from all subsequent sales of his water-drop pieces (which are completely rounded on the bottom and meant to be hung) to support water conservation efforts in Florida.
"Dream Filter"
This is one of my favorites. It's called "Self Portrait."
Matt hand carves every cutout and groove in his pieces. Here's a great picture of the detail-work on "Realizing Dreams".
Because he works with ceramics, Matt needs all kinds of supplies and equipment other artists may not need. He'll need a kiln, a slab-roller, and a throwing wheel at the very least, not to mention the actual porcelain and glazes.

Matt has started a Kickstarter to help him get his gallery set up and running. Those who donate will receive a custom-made ceramic piece. If you're feeling philanthropic (or just love ceramics), please consider donating to his studio!
Click here to watch the video and view his Kickstarter page.
And of course, if you know anyone who would want to help a young artist make his big break, please pass along his Kickstarter link! We're trying to raise publicity as much as funds.

Matt's extremely talented and this is his passion; I'm so proud of him for taking the risk and going for it. It's not an easy thing to do, but I have a good feeling that this is really meant to happen for him!

What's your favorite kind of art?
Do you or your SO have a special talent?


Friday, April 15, 2016

A Killer Workout

I'm really pleased with how this week has gone: T25 Monday, a run Tuesday, intervals Thursday, and a T25 core workout Friday!

On Thursdays, Elizabeth's husband has classes in the evening so when we run, we have to choose small repetitive loops so her stepdaughter can play where we can keep an eye on her. (This isn't a problem because her stepdaughter is hilarious and also doesn't mind taking a million pictures of our workouts!)

But loops can get boring, so this week we brought along our dumbbells to change things up. It felt a little weird and a lot awesome to complete our circuit out in the parking lot of our local park.
Check out my leg tan-lines. Ridiculous!
We completed eight intervals around the "track", stopping each time to do one of the following: bicep curls, tricep dips, presses, and Arnolds.
The dips were probably my favorite.
My goal for pace was to keep it around 9:30, but we were actually all over the place and fairly negative...the second interval was really slow because we stopped to say hi to a turtle we found.
He was pretty uncertain of us but seemed willing enough to pose for pictures!
I need to relearn how to monitor my own pace; this loop is short, so it makes me push to go faster. I had trouble finding my sweet spot.

.33 @ 10:30 & 24 bicep curls
.33 @ 11:00 & 12 tricep dips (turtle time!)
.33 @ 8:41 & 12 presses (making up for turtle time?!)
.33 @ 8:51 & 12 Arnolds
.33 @ 9:11 & 24 bicep curls
.33 @ 9:15 & 12 tricep dips
.33 @ 9:20 & 12 presses
.33 @ 9:25 & 12 Arnolds

Overall I was really happy with this workout. I felt strong and we finished feeling accomplished; I know this is one we'll repeat sometime in the future!

How do you change up repetitive or boring workouts?
Have you found any cool wildlife on a run lately?


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Clean Slate

I know I'm late, seeing as April started twelve days ago, but I'm calling this week a fresh start. Things were hard; they're steadily getting better.

My kids are starting their research unit, which is simultaneously my favorite and least favorite time of year. I love watching them delve into a topic of their choice. It's a chance for them to genuinely enjoy exploring their curiosity and learning new things; I hate the micromanaging that has to happen in order to get them all to the finished product without plagiarizing or giving up.

It's a stressful unit for all of us.
My students are so used to being told what to lookup and what to learn that brainstorming and thinking up their own ideas is the hardest part. Once they get started, they actually usually enjoy the research process! It's really gratifying to see.
So far some the topics I've seen are: Olympic figure skaters, serial killers, various genres of music, martial arts, video games, and heart surgery.

Elizabeth and I have been motivating each other into a little overhaul of our habits this week. I don't have a car at the moment (another reason for my stress these past couple weeks), so I'm dependent on her for rides to and from school...which means that if she holds me hostage after work to do a T25 workout, then I'm obliged to stay.
Feeling some good endorphins after T25 in Elizabeth's classroom.
It also means I can't drive to a starting place of my choice to run, but tonight I finally looked that excuse in the eye and went out our back door to the golf course for the first time in months.
Keeping each other accountable.
Also new this week: I finished a really good book (Blood Song by Anthony Ryan. The sequel was okay and I'm not sure I'll read the concluding novel, but the first was seriously amazing) and I've been listening to Halsey's "Gasoline" nonstop.
I also replenished my wardrobe with some new Skirt Sports gear, so I'm excited to have a chance to wear it. Nothing motivates me to workout like new clothes.
I got two Lioness skirts (in Free Love and Safari), a Peek-a-Boo skirt in Safari, a Take Five tank in Gray Stardust and an Eclipse tank (in Free Love - I'm wearing it in Safari in the T25 pic above). I'm totally set for summer running!
Finally, I want to say thanks for your kind words on my last post. The worst has (hopefully) passed regarding the school issues. I'm finally feeling a little more normal; I was feeling pretty hollow and distant there for awhile. Like it was taking all my energy just to exist. I do think I've turned a corner. Now it's just about working to stay on the right path.

What have you been listening to lately?
What was/is your favorite project in school?
Are you getting any new gear for summer running?


Friday, April 8, 2016

Real Life

This week was emotionally hard.

It's not something I want to or can go into, but this week our school family has been dealing with some really hard stuff. I've had to put a lot of myself into work to support our students and my colleagues (and myself), so in my free time I've withdrawn into myself a little to help me get through it. I know I've been absent from the blog scene this week...but I had to step back and take care of myself. I needed the quiet time.
I've been resting.

I'm not sure how to get back to a place where running and exercise will be life-giving instead of a burden, where interacting with others is a joy. But I guess this post is a good step forward.

ASCD this past weekend was good. I picked up a lot of information and tools for my classes. We also got to listen to Manny Scott, one of the students whose story was featured in Freedom Writers. His story was unbelievably moving and his delivery was fantastic. It's probably the most memorable moment from the conference.
The convention was good, but the funniest part was that our hotel was hosting the annual furry convention. I listen to Dan Savage so these people in animal costumes weren't a mystery to me, but my colleagues were freaked out, entertained, and really interested. We spent all weekend scoping them out and finally worked up the nerve to meet some of them.

As with most things that are strange and new, any preconceived notions dissipated once we'd spent a little time around them. As usual, exposure is fatal to prejudice.

I hope you're all doing well. I've been reading, even if I haven't been commenting. I hope to be around more soon.


Friday, April 1, 2016

I Leave You With...A Survey

I'll be gone all weekend for ASCD, so I won't be updating. I'm still feeling pretty cruddy so I'm not sure if I'll get to run while I'm away, but I hope I do!

Kim tagged me in this survey, and it's one I've never done, so I'm all over it! I think the copy/pasting made the font a little weird so...bear with me!

A- Age: 30!
B- Biggest fear: Manatees...actually, wide open water and the sea creatures therein, but people really think the manatee fear is hilarious.
C- Current time: 8:33pm
D- Drink you last had: Ice water. My throat has been parched all week from this cough!
E- Every day starts with: Wishing I could sleep another hour.
F- Favorite song: Right now I'm obsessed with all things Melanie Martinez. 

Her sound is so unique and dark. Thanks to Allison for making me aware of her!

G- Ghosts, are they real? No
H- Hometown: Hm. Beachwood, Ohio? What exactly is a hometown? Where you live, or where you grew up?
I- In love with: Matt...and rainbow sherbet.
J- Jealous of: People who can run 45 miles a week without getting injured!
K- Killed someone? What kind of question is this?! (Actually, last week Elizabeth accused me of trying to kill her during our 200 repeats so...maybe?)

Proof she was still smiling and alive after!
L- Last time you cried? Uh...I can't remember! I guess that's a good thing.
M- Middle name: Beth. (Suddenly my signature on posts becomes clear!)
N- Number of siblings: I'm the middle kid and I definitely suffer middle child syndrome.

The fam last Passover.
O- One wish: To live a life worth living. No, really. To not have to look back and feel like I squandered my talent or my passions.
P- Person you last called: My doctor.
Q- Question you're always asked: "What did you say?" "Can I go to the bathroom?" "What are we doing?" "When does class end?"
R- Reason to smile: The sunflowers Matt brought home for now reason this week.

S- Song last sung: Mary J. Blige's "No More Drama". I sang it while I ran, so you know it was good.
T- Time you woke up: 10:30, and I'm not ashamed to admit it!

Read the article here.
U- Underwear color: This is right up there with the question about killing people...
V- Vacation destination: I don't have a favorite, so I'm going to go with my DREAM vacation - New Zealand! Or a tour of Europe!
W- Worst habit: Okay, this is embarrassing picking. I have dermatillomania, which is an OCD disorder. (Admittedly I'm self-diagnosed, but I'm 100% certain I've earned the diagnosis.)
X- X-Rays you've had: Feet and teeth
Y- Your favorite food: Sushi or chocolate. Anything chocolate.
Z- Zodiac sign: Aquarius...but I don't think it has anything to do with my personality or how I get along with others.

Share something random about yourself in the comments, or fill out the survey!
How do you define "hometown"?
Teachers, can you relate to Q?