Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Years that mattered

Sometimes, a year comes along, and you just want to hug and squeeze it, and never let it go.  You want to cherish and remember it with fondness.  You know that no matter what the future will bring, you will always be able to look back on that year with joy, and with fondness.  Those years that give you that small, private smile, shaking your head about "that one time".

In 2004, I really started to learn who Kristen was.  I started coming into my own, and made some truly lasting friendships.

In 2007 I graduated from college, traveled to China, and moved back to Colorado, where I got my first grown-up apartment and grown-up full-time job.

2009.  Laid out by a lot of pools.  Had some of the best hair of my life.  Took a lot of chances, some that worked, some that didn't.  Made a big move 45 minutes North, thinking it was for one boy, only to find out that life had a very different man waiting at the end of that year.

2013.  I don't know what I think of this year just yet.  For sure there were some peaks to this year, astronomical peaks that I never thought I could possibly aspire to.  I married a man who fulfills my soul.  I mean... hello.  However, we experienced so much pain, hardship, hurt, and sadness along the way, that the year as a whole looks more like the face of an angry, acne-scarred pro-activ advertisement than it does like the face of love.  Yet... something about this year draws me in.  Maybe we needed the pain and the sadness in order to appreciate all of the magic that was created this year. 
Maybe we will continue down our journey, turn back to look with our hands clasped tight, and whisper, "that was a beautiful chapter indeed.  Yes, even with all of the discordant notes, we love that movement of the symphony of our lives." 
This post didn't do what I thought it would do.  However, as with life, sometimes that's the best possible outcome.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Ugly Sweaters galore!

Good morning!  It's been a minute since I was last here, but I can't say as I'm too sorry about that.  I felt pretty raw for a few days, and so I hunkered down and watched an entire Korean Drama series in one week while I made 4 pans of Rice Krispies Treats, and ate half my weight in said treats.  #totesworthit

However, we participated in something near and dear to my heart over the weekend, and it filled me with such joy that I couldn't keep it to myself;  The Ugly Sweater run.  And guys, it was so glorious.

Oh hey, Giant Santa, how are you???

As some of you may know, I have taken to collecting Ugly Christmas Sweaters over the last couple of years.  They bring me great joy and happiness.  So this was a given on our holiday schedule, especially after they promised copious amounts of hot chocolate... which was absolutely necessary, given the fact that the temperature was 25 degrees when we got there, and the water in the cups at the starting line was frozen.  Womp, womp.

This was an untimed fun-run through the streets of downtown Denver, so Ammon and I decided to walk, not run.  It really was so cold that running the whole thing may have put me in a bad way with my IT bands... I think my minimum outdoor running temperature may be 37 degrees or so.  Anything below that just isn't happening.

Also, the hats... I can't ignore the hats.  These were our race swag, in lieu of yet another race t-shirt.  I am so, so, so in love.  And as it turns out, they are creating a collection of different ugly sweater swag, so next year, we'll get a different matching piece in the collection.  I have serious love for these hats, they remind me of every single ski hat I ever owned between 1991 and 1997.  The nordic pattern, the puff ball, the colors... just yes, yes, yes.

We ended up dashing out after the run was over for lunch with Karissa!  I threw sweatpants on over my long underwear and Christmas socks, but otherwise, she just got to hang out with me in all of my ugly sweater and ugly hat glory.  Sorry about that, Karissa, next time I'll come looking a little less... festive, as you put it ;-).  We had an outstanding conversation about Homeschooling, the public and private education systems, books, writing books, pen names, and pressure on authors.  It ended way too fast!

And in its own way, it made for the perfect Saturday:  Friends, tacky sweaters, fun, and hot chocolate.  In my book, that is a combination that is tough to beat.

Monday, December 16, 2013

An impossible year

Today feels  a little impossible.

It feels impossible that he's been gone for a year already.  That a year ago today, I would witness one of the hardest days my husband has ever had.  That a year ago, our lives changed so abruptly.  We're still in denial a lot of the time.  We hide from what happened.  We don't talk about it, ever, really  So much changed, and yet we march on just the same.

The funny thing about losing a family member suddenly and unexpectedly is the way that people work around that loss, almost as if that person is just on vacation, or some other equivalent.  Almost as though you expect them back, so there's no use in remarking on their absence.  How can that person that was so vital, so full of life be gone for good?  I still can't wrap my brain around it.

And because we don't talk about it at home, talking about all of this here feels kind of wrong.  Like it's some naughty thing to bring up, like I'm trying to gain pity.  For me, I'm a talker.  It's how I process, how I acknowledge, how I accept the senseless.  And death, for all its inevitability, is utterly senseless to me.

I find myself reaching for a conclusion today.  Some words that I can hold close to my heart today, and words that will leave this post "sounding right" to me.  Words that assure that we are doing alright a year later, but that there's still that hole in our hearts.  Words that commemorate in stark detail what our family has been through.  Words that share that my pain is more than loss, but pain that my partner is in pain too.  All of those words.  But I'm not a master word-crafter, and so those words about feelings and emotions just don't flow from these fingers. 

But the truth is, some days I miss him more than others.  And today I miss him an awful lot.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Some ugly truth

Since the half marathon, I seem to have lost my will, motivation, and desire to exercise.  My body has been rebelling, as my IT bands remind me that running does not come naturally to my body.  It reminds me that I have healing and restorative work to do, and that is DAUNTING.

I am committed to another half marathon in May, and a full marathon in September.  I am terrified that I am going to let my friends who are doing these races with me den I try to own, because my body just can't seem to figure this running thing out, and it paralyzes me.  Instead of getting to work, I let life get in the way.

This is my truth as it stands right now.  And I don't like it, and it's ugly.  I hesitate to even write about it here, because it is such an awful thing for me to even think about.  Every day I think it's going to be the day that I start that work, and then by the time work is done for the day, my IT bands are wailing, and I just want to move as little as possible.  Every day I remember the 1,864 commitments that I have in addition to my health, and I choose to make those more important.

For the record, I think there is a season for everything, and that if I have to rest, now is a good time for it.  The holidays are always busy, and this year seems to be no exception.  I am trying my best to compensate for all of this by eating clean and drinking tons of water, and it has helped tremendously with weight management.  However, I don't just want to be "thin".  I want to be toned, and I want to be fit.  It has always been a challenge to me, and it's driven me for years.  It is what moved me to study Exercise Science, then Holistic Health Coaching.  It's what drove me to start a blog, and what drives me now to be real and honest about how I experience health in my life.

So I'm being really open and honest today, with the hopes that getting these words and thoughts out in the world will help me do the mental work necessary to start the physical work.  That I can get my head in the game, and make some serious commitments to myself.  I need to get back to exercise, it makes me feel sane.  It keeps my anxiety levels manageable, and it gives me a competitive outlet.  It is important to my life, while simultaneously being something I have a very hard time enjoying.  I hate the act of exercising.  It takes a lot of time, and you have to prep for it, and you get disgusting, and then you have to clean up afterward.  It's just so much in an already busy life.

But it is a necessary inconvenience, so I'm going to work hard to make the time for it.

What big goals/events do you have on the horizon?
How do you get motivated to handle things that are big and scary?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What the world needs now

What the World Needs Now Is Love by Burt Bacharach on Grooveshark

Does anyone else remember the first time they heard this song?  For me, it was when I was a teenager, and my dad and I went to see Austin Powers together.  And I couldn't help but love it.  I still do.  I even considered this song for the father-daughter dance at our wedding.

You know what else I love?  Hand-written letters.  I'm not as good about writing them as I should be.  But to tell the truth, this lefty still sometimes gets a little insecure about her little pen smudges and her less than perfect cursive.  However, if there is any organization in the world that can coax this lopsided lefty into penning some prose, it's More Love Letters.  I love everything that they are about, and I'm fairly certain that they are one of the reasons that the postal service is still in business.  They believe in random acts of joy and kindness through hand-written "love" notes.  Does it get better than that???

MLL reached out to me not too long ago, and asked if I would be a blog ambassador for their 12 days of Love Letter Writing Campaign.  I couldn't respond fast enough that I was in!  One of the best parts about MLL is that each month, they choose people with a story to receive extra encouragement and love from complete strangers.  For this campaign, there is a different Love Letter recipient each day for 12 days!  Today is day 3... that means that you have 10 opportunities still to shine some light on a stranger.  So grab your favorite pen, one of those fancy notecards you just couldn't live without, and a hot beverage.  I'll wait for you, and when you're back, we'll dive right in to this special Love Letter Request together.

Are you back???  Oh, good.  Because now we're getting to the good part.  Just check it out if you don't believe me.

The Love Letter Nominee:  Ashley

Nominated by:  Her Sweet friend Andrea

Why Ashley needs your love letter:

This request touched our hearts + we know it will touch yours as well. Ashley’s friend writes “One of my best friends is moving away in April because her future husband is in the military and he is getting stationed somewhere far away from home. So, for Christmas I have decided to put a letter box together for when she leaves and for the special days leading to the big move. I want her to have letters to open on bad days, good days, when she's missing home and any other day in between. I would love for her to have some letters to open up that would make her smile and make her a little less homesick. She has never moved away from her friends and family and I know it'll be tough.” Put your pen to paper + join us in writing letters for Ashley to carry with her on her new journey!

Please send your letters to:

Ashley's Bundle

c/o Andrea S.

10715 Cariuto Ct.

San Diego, CA 92124

I know it's pretty bold... but I'm going to go out on a limb, and ask all of my readers who participate to consider tucking an extra special note of encouragement in there for Miss Andrea as well.  Her best friend is moving away, and that is always a hard thing, but especially right after the holidays.  It's totally up to you, but I feel like the world needs all of the love and support it can get.

If you participate, please let me know in the comments below, and if you Instagram, be sure to snap a photo of your sweet words, hash-tagged  #moreloveletters so that this movement can gain more traction and touch many more lives.

Are you in???

Monday, December 9, 2013

It finally happened

Guys.  This last weekend?  Something incredible happened.  After over a year and a half of reading each others' blogs, commenting and emailing back and forth, and even sending each other Christmas cards last year, I finally met Karissa!

 And truly, it was awesome.  She was performing with a chorale in Denver, and so Ammon and I went to cheer her on.  And wow.  Seriously y'all, it was great.  Somehow, the only 2 seats left for the performance were in the front row across the aisle from one another.  So Ammon did silly things like this for the entire first half of the show:

It worked out perfectly, because I had the best view when Karissa was up there doing her solo.  Bloggers have gotta support other bloggers, you know.  I'm pretty sure people thought I was crazy, photographing a choral performance, but I just roll that way.

After the Chorale had their part of the show, the Symphony came on, and then there was a joint performance.  At the intermission, they were able to find us 2 seats together, which was incredible.  Thank you season ticket holders who didn't make it.  We appreciated your seats greatly.  After all of that was over, it was finally time to meet Karissa!  It ended up being super brief, because it was already 10pm, and Ammon and I had never had the chance to eat dinner.  However, it was still awesome, and I am so glad we went.  It's crazy to me that for living only an hour and a half apart, and with her only a few minutes from my in-laws, that we haven't managed to meet up before now.

What continues to amaze me is how not awkward it is to meet other bloggers.  I realized it last month when I met Nerky and Cailtin, and it was reaffirmed this time too.  You all are just as awesome in person as you are on the internets.  I love that.

I also love when I can talk about blogger friends with non-bloggers, and feel less awkward, because now I've actually met those blogger friends in person.  So the moral of this story is that I want to meet ALL of you now.  Ammon had better do REALLY well at his job, so that he has enough money for all of our travel expenses  =).

Anyhow, it's Monday, so let's not make this any longer than it needs to be.  I hope you all have a wonderful day!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Tis the season

I think my recurring case of the Thursdays has been re-caught.  Dang it.  I thought that maybe, just maybe, I was done with the Thursday dreads.  But since every day this week has felt like a Monday, I guess I should just accept this week for what it is.  Since it is going to be day 4 of a case of the Mondays, however, I feel like I am deserving of a little pep talk.  I hope you find it worthwhile as well as you go into my least favorite day of the week.

Hey there, Miss "I post selfies gone horribly wrong and I don't care".  We all know you're making that face because Ammon walked away mid-photo opp.  RUDE.  However, it's the truth that whenever people aren't looking, this has totally been your facial expression this week.  Going back to work after 10 days off is hard, especially when you come back to rent collection week and short-staffing in the office.  It's gross.  And no, you haven't worked out once since your half marathon, and that sucks, because you should probably be pro-active about the Christmas dinner situation, given what happened with Thanksgiving.  There are a lot of things you have been beating yourself up over in the last few days.

But stop it already.  I mean, seriously.  You are sleep deprived.  You are in the middle of finals, and it's the flipping holidays.  The fact that you vaguely know what day it is, where you are, and you can put together work-appropriate outfits is stellar.  Even better is the fact that, despite being behind at work, you are managing to deal with some important things. 

And somehow, you are also managing to keep at this #holidaycleanup Advocare cleanse nonsense.  I mean, you have limited your coffee to one small cup a day, and you committed to NO BEER for 10 days, even with a case of Shiner Cheer that you trekked across 2 state lines sitting in your kitchen. That is phenomenal.  So is the fact that all that holiday weight is melting off like buttah.  Mmmmmmmmm, butter.

If you have gotten through these first 3 days of the week, then these next 2 are going to be a piece of cake.  I mean, you're 60% done, and that's almost good enough to pass a class, right?  Right?

So take a deep breath, pretend your water is coffee, and smile, dang it.  You've got this in the bag.  Things are all looking up from here.  And really, when you're all tiny and stuff after 10 days of Cheer-free living, you will appreciate being festive all the more.  Especially when you bust out your half marathon finisher medal/bottle opener, because that thing never gets old.

'Tis the Season is right, Shiner.  So, so right.

Well, I feel better already.  Have a good day!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Just a few random things

Some things I have been thinking about lately...
1) That saying about not making Mountains out of Molehills.  I feel like the distinction between the two is highly subjective and personal to everyone, so why do people tell you to not make things a big deal if you know that to you, whatever is happening is a big deal?  Then again, sometimes speedbumps appear to be insurmountable to me, so maybe I just see the world as one big ole mountain range of big deals.

2) One of the girls at work brought in an obscene amount of baked goods yesterday.  She got the scoop that on Saturdays, Whole Foods gives away all of the baked goods that they can no longer sell, and she went a little wild.  I should have taken a picture of it, but just know there were nearly  dozen loaves of banana walnut bread, a half dozen loaves of pound cake, muffins, cinnamon rolls, pecan rolls, scones, brownies, and an apple pie.  It just sat on the counter tempting me all day long, as my office is right next to the kitchenette.  But I did not have one. single. bite.  Victory is mine!

3) Speaking of that non-scale victory, it lead to an on-scale victory, as I've already lost 2.8 pounds since yesterday.  It's totally water weight coming off, and that's fine.  The water and puffiness needed to go, and it always goes so much faster when I'm not eating junky foods.

4) I made an awesome chicken enchilada bake last night, and it was even healthy!  Instead of wrapping my enchiladas, I put a single layer of tortillas on the base of the casserole, and then another layer over the top of the chicken.  That way I can put more protein in the middle and make them more substantial.  It was soooooooooooooooo good.

5) I'm not back to running yet after the half marathon.  I had hoped to run last night after work, but I got out of work late, and still had to walk the dog and cook dinner.  Maybe depending on how work goes today, I'll try to get in a couple of slow miles tonight.

6) My car needs new tires, but we want to replace my car this spring after we get our taxes.  I had a dream last night that we went to the dealership to buy my new car.  It feels weird to buy new tires for a car I only want to drive for 3-4 more months.

7) I really need to get some packages out the door, as well as our thank-you notes from the wedding.  We are so behind on all of that.  I even took the stack to Texas so we could work on them, but we didn't.  Thank goodness etiquette says you have a year to get those bad boys out the door.

Aaaaaaaand that's all I have today.  Hope you have a wonderful day!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Back to life, back to reality

Today it's back to the real world for Ammon and I.  We had a great several days off work and away from real life, but I am glad that we are back and resuming our normal routine.  I enjoy going to work and being busy, 2 things I certainly didn't do much of while we were on vacation.

I'm also kind of glad to be leaving vacation food behind.  While delicious, I ate all the things, and it is showing big time right now.  I mentioned before that I'm starting a 10 day cleanse today, and I'm pretty happy about the timing of it.  This cleanse is primarily supplement based, and just requires that you limit the junk in your diet and eat a mostly clean diet for 10 days.  Easy enough.  At least, it seems that way now.  Maybe I'll be singing a different tune by day 3.

I debated for a bit, and ended up taking some before pictures.  I mean, why not?  They help me feel like I need to stay accountable.  I know for a fact I will look very different in my after pictures... not eating all of the things will help a lot, but also, totally started "that time of the month" yesterday right before we took these photos.  So yeah...  not so hot right now.

Ooof, that's a whole lot of retained water.  Yikes.  So anywho, that's what is happening for me today as I try to get rid of the consequences of my delicious vacation choices.  How did the holiday go for you?  What dish can you not stop with?  For me this year it was this heavenly chili cheese dip my brother-in-law made as an appetizer.  So good.