Sunday, November 21, 2010

Day 111

Hey, look who I found. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Giving Good Voice

 I've put my stories so far under my bed I think they've found their way to the garage where I was happy to let them stay. But now I'm teaching this *&%^&% literature class and it's forcing me to read again, no more than read, it's forcing me to examine words and their meaning. And it stirs things in me. Things I'd just assume go forgotten.

My life is back to the beginning. Everything I will do today will be what I did before I picked up a pen. Last year, I told my friend Melinda I wanted my prewriting life back with it's order and predicability. I was putting down the pen and going back to my old life. 

And she asked, "Do you think you can? Will you still be able to find satisfaction in it? At this point is it even possible to go back?" 

I really resented the question.

Of course I can. I know what I want! I want lazy picnics on the back lawn and an organized pantry. I want to frost sugar cookies and to make jam. I want to know what is going on in my kids lives, the names of their friends and the contents of their lockers. I want to decorate for the holidays and run errands. I want to sit quietly and listen when people speak to me and be there, not just in body. 

Because, woo boy, when I've got story on the brain there ain't nothing else going on behind my eyes. And I'm completely impotent in reality. Which doesn't really work with my life. As I write this very sentence my five year old is dangling around my neck, scooting to my lap, then to the floor and whining because she wants me to get off the friggen computer. 

So, I put the laptop away and go on with my day, the same kind of day I had three years ago. But different. Melinda might be right. Once the words are in our blood . . . 

they sort of make an impact.

Thanks SuzyT for the link. You are amazing. All of you should know Suzy. She is about the coolest woman I know. If I could be like any woman in the world it would be her. And I've known her since I was a wee lass, so this isn't just virtual love here. She's got this whole creative/parenting gig figured out. Oh, and she's the most awesome kind of spontaneous—the let's go to Maryland for dinner and eat blue crab kind of spontaneous (she lives in Florida)—she's so cool. She's an artist and writer and coolest chic ever. In fifteen years, I want to be like her. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Day 51

I had a great weekend canyoneering with friends. Actually, it was the youth group activity I've had to cancel four times due to dangerous weather. My friend KimG posted a fantastic entry about the trip.

In other news the United Kingdom is cracking down on photoshopping. A group of healthy body advocates are pushing for warning labels on all ads that have been retouched, you know, like the warnings on cigarette labels?


Perhaps they should put a warning label on the front cover. Warning: This media is hazardous to your health.

I only wish the United States would climb on board. Advertising companies claim that the only reason they retouch photos is to give the reader what they want. They claim that people realize that the images they are looking at are not real and are actually hoping to see a "glamorized" version of reality. I call BS to that crock of crap. Most of the women and girls I speak to in my workshops have no idea the images are digitally manipulated to such an extreme extent. The phrase used to be buyer beware, now it's viewer beware.

Here's a link if you'd like to learn more.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Day 45

The food thing? It's been weird. Lately, I haven't craved much of anything. I went through a whole wheat bread with creamed honey phase for almost all my meals. And I'm so through with strawberries. Blech.

I bought a case of peaches with big plans to make jam. I pulled out all the canning supplies and read through my cookbooks fantasizing about all the possibilities. I made some yummy salsa instead because the tomatoes were getting too ripe. Then TNG brought home a 5 gallon bucket of elderberries, so I made syrup. Then the zucchini threatened to take over the world so I saved you all and made 10 loaves of bread. Then I got tired and was grateful I was born now and not on the frontier when preserving stuff wasn't an option but a life or death requirement.

I still haven't touched the peaches.

I'm forcing everybody to eat them before they go bad. My five year old ate three peaches today, each bigger than her head.

And I haven't even started on the jalapenos. I need jalapeno jelly for recipes. It's a great add in to sauces and such. But I'm starting to lose steam.

TNG keeps reminding me that I don't need to do any of this housewifey stuff. He says I can let the peaches brown and paint a mural of Frida Kahlo waterskiing with pandas if the desire struck. He knows I need to create to live. But I don't feel like doing much but following vague instructions on the inside of the pectin box.

All this listening to myself has stirred my emotional insides into pea green broth. I'm just a brothy pot of  bubbling emotions, emoting all day long. It's good and healthy and stuff. It just makes me tired.

Except for one. I don't laugh much these days. I miss laughing. I miss friends who make me laugh. I miss not being able to breath because I am so filled with laughter there isn't room for air. So if you're reading this, it's likely I'm talking to you, cause you're awesome and if you were here I'd squish your cheeks and give you a hug.

I guess that's what I've been craving, some friend to friend love.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Day 40

I just signed on to teach another class next semester. This will be in addition to my Public Speaking courses. I'm super excited about the content but it's a pretty new class on campus so I'm going to need some help from you readers to get it going.

It's Oral Interpretation of Literature.

I guess I just can't stay out of the theatre. I'm pretty excited to sink my teeth back into books and performance. It's been so long, holy cow I have missed it.

Send me any ideas on what you'd like to see in a class like this. We'll cover the oral readings of plays, prose, poetry, maybe even some blogs (!?!) Please send me book and poetry ideas (even yours, it might be a way to get your work read in public at speech competitions.)

I am going to need to assemble a collection. I've only got my private collection at home right now, it's pretty heavy on books but I'm not to crazy about sharing it with twenty plus college students.

What a challenge. Can't wait.

Oh, and BTW, the food thing is getting easier. Since I've let myself eat basically whatever I want whenever I want as long as my body is actually hungry for it, I've found I don't really want that much to eat, mostly bread and fruits and vegetables. Crazy. Who knew my body was so intelligent.

Granted, it's not always easy. The emotions that rush through me when I'm not stuffing them with food can be pretty intense. But I'm dealing, more or less. Some days are better than others.

I've also signed up to try the Bountiful Basket Co-op. I know I'm a little behind on that concept but super excited about it. (Wow, I'm super excited about a lot today.)  I love big baskets of fruits and vegetables and I love trying new foods. So the idea that I can get lots of fresh organic produce every week for $25 dollars is super (that word again, ugh) intriguing.

I pick up my first basket on Saturday. I'll let you know how it goes.

And I haven't forgotten about the instructions I promised to post about converting a table into a cute, cute bench. Just waiting for TNG to send me the pictures. (hint, hint)

Hugs to you all.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Day 33

For my husband's birthday I gave him a trip. Basically we'd go anywhere or do anything he wanted to for a long weekend. I had my own ideas on what would be fun. 

This is what he chose:

Whanna see it from a MonkeyCAM? 

Um, that "Monkeycam" is going off a 290 foot rappel! 
Those little, itty, bity, white things are People! 

Yeah, you read that right, nearly 300 freakin' feet of terror!!

I've rappelled a lot since I married the Norse one. Can't say I've ever enjoyed it, (since I am terrified of heights) but it is a great way to practice my faith building skills

For example, when I am anchored to a tree and stepping into the abyss my thoughts turn to religion. 

They go something like this:

"Please God, don't let me fall and die. Though. I am willingly throwing myself off a cliff, please be mindful of my children and that they will be orphans if I drop/bounce/slam off the sandstone walls to my death. So yeah, you know, if you're not too busy helping all those people suffering from starvation, war, and cancer don't let me fall, please don't let me fall, please, please, please, please!!!!!"

Wish me luck! 


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day 31

Labor day is coming. Yay! Time for another vacation? I'm still trying to decide. The last one was so amazing just thinking about it and I'm Jonesen for another river.

Did I mention that we had a party on the last night of our river trip? We had 20 plus people over for Prime Rib, my friend KimG's amazing roasted veggies and homemade ice cream!

Virg- Our patron saint. The whole reason the Norse God and I met. 
The Norselet's talking Amy J's ear off. 
Is that Apple cobbler I smell in that dutch oven? 

Monday, August 30, 2010

Day 30

What do I want

To create!

Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

I want to take something I love . . . 

And make it . . . 


Or conceptualize a project I've wanted to do forever
 and finally make it happen.

TNG and I built all the furniture in this room (floors included) except the sofa. The black table in the corner is a goner now that my man has built me the gorgeous pedestal table of my dreams!

The unfinished project (She's a little shy)

But wait 'til you see how sexy she looks in black.

(Sorry, Gotta come back for the big reveal)

It's made from two thrift store tables

I've discovered a new hobby that I love, love, LOVE

Furniture repurposing! 

See this bench?

It used to be my kitchen table. 

Wanna know how obscenely easy and inexpensive (less than 10 bucks!) it was to take a broken table and make a high end bench? 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Day 25

Here is how my assignment works. I can eat absolutely anything, and I mean anything, I want (including peanut butter cookie dough for breakfast) as long as my body is actually hungry for it.

Now hunger is tricky. Sure, I know how it feels to be famished in a panicked sort of way that if I don't eat this very second I might shrivel up and die. And I know how to eat so little I can barely get off the couch just so I can fit into my size 2 pants. But the truth is that I, we, rarely eat out of hunger. I eat because the bread smells amazing, or it's dinner time, or because I am on vacation and if I don't eat it now I might never get another chance to eat it again in my entire life! 

Photo: Joyce Dopkeen/The New York Times

Which isn't really true if you think about it.

But when I am in a divine, one-of-a-kind bakery, that sells that one-of-a-kind-cupcake that had it's own hour special on the Food Network, I'm not measuring my body on a hunger scale. I'm ordering everything in the store.

I'm sure it's a deprivation thing that's probably linked to my childhood and the fact that I wasn't breast fed. My mom doesn't read this blog. Let's blame her! (Just kidding)

Anyway my hunger mentality isn't working for me anymore and I am so, so, so ready to change it. Mostly, so I can walk into Cheesecake factory and order a slice of Godiva Heaven, eat every single bite, like a normal person, and not feel like I committed a deadly sin.

So, I wake and wait for hunger to sink it. Nothing happens, until 10:45 when I feel the beginnings of hollow in the belly hunger. Then I eat whatever I'm hankerin'. (I know this goes against what modern science says about metabolism and eating first thing in the morning, but I am trying to trust that my body knows more about what it needs than some male scientist at the Mayo clinic.)
I ate what I was craving, A banana and four ripe strawberries. I kid you not, it was the best banana I have ever tasted in my life! And I was full again. Just like that.

And that is what's supposed to happen, wait until you are hungry, eat what you want, and your food will actually taste better. 

That doesn't mean I don't want to eat the 23 1/2 other hours of the day. I just trying not to. I've committed to myself to sit and think, or write, about why I want to eat at any given moment. Most of the time I don't even know the emotion driving my cravings until after I take a time out and think about it. I've trained my body to desire food instead of feel emotion.

Here are a few of the emotions triggered by cravings I've jotted down in the past week: bored, tired, lonely, thirsty, happy, sad, pensive, excited, affectionate and angry. (You can see why some of my recent posts have been downers. I'm not burying the emotions in my stomach so they're resurfacing all over the place.

It's been interesting so far. I haven't gained any weight (my greatest terror was that if I let myself eat whatever I wanted whenever, I'd go hog wild and resemble Jabba the Hut by New Years).

I haven't lost anything either. Which isn't really the point, I guess. The experiment is to learn to listen to what I want and then—this is the kicker—give it. 

So what do I really want if it's not food? Stay tuned.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Day 23- For Real

Today my youngest started Kindergarten.

I asked her what she learned. 

She made a tee and said, "This means you have to go to the bathroom, and you should never go in the corner."

Ah, my tax dollars hard at work. 

Day 23

This morning I was messing around on my blog, trying to make it more user friendly and apparently I accidentally blocked ALL of you.

I am so sorry. It was not intentional. You are all very nice readers and deserve better.

Everything should be back up in running now.

Thanks Kim for the heads up!


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Day 22

 Today, I read an article by a new author. We were in the submission trenches together. She got a million dollar book contract and I, well, did not.

Anyway, she was talking about balancing writing and family life and how she'd come to the conclusion that she could only do two things at once, write and parent. But she was fine with it, writing and parenting are enough to fill her up.

I closed my laptop grabbed the last remaining treat I have in my house, an old bin of gingersnaps I bought last Thanksgiving, and headed for the refrigerator. As I'm dipping one cookie after another into a kiddie cup of milk, I pondered why this writing stuff is still such a toxic subject for me. I mean, I knew it must be a landmine,
handfuls of stale gingersnap cookies 
painful crap I don't want to stomach. 

When the tenth (or twentieth, who's counting?)  gingersnap thunked in my gut. It hit me. 

I couldn't do it. The balance didn't work for me. I couldn't give my family what they deserved and create a novel. I couldn't do both. Makes me feel like I failed.  

Yes, I made a conscious decision to stay home with my kids and not pursue writing professionally. Yes, I know I've made the right decision for me. Yes, I know that everyone in my family is thriving since I've made that choice. Yes, I know that there are successful authors who didn't even start writing until their sixties. 

No, that knowledge doesn't make it easier. No, it doesn't make me feel any better about myself. No, I don't want to write for the geriatric crowd. 

I don't want to have a pity party here.  I'm good with the decisions I've made, overall. I am feeling so much joy again. I am living!  I moving toward the life I've always (really) wanted but choosing the right path is not always easy. 

Because it brings me back to why I made the decision in the first place. 

Writing a book or losing forty pounds won't change me

at least not the way I imagined in my fantasies. This revelation was a serious sucker punch, believe me. Especially when I know if I kept working at it, I could have a fat book contract too. 
But I don't want to pursue anything else until I'm ready, until I know it's the right time and I'm good with myself. 

In the meantime, the food demons have been dancing across my butt. 

And eating gingersnaps feels a lot like swallowing nails. 

But I'm keeping at it. 

If and when I ever do write again, I want to write for me, not to fulfill unrealistic fantasies or to impress anybody else. No outside influences allowed. 

But first, I'm  chucking the gingersnaps. It's time to make peace with myself. 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Day 21

I've really, REALLY been trying to listen to myself and give it what it needs.

I'm a little embarrassed to admit this but I have really been scared to trust myself with this venture. What if I only crave chocolate or ice cream? What if I want to eat fried chicken all the time? What if I want to leave my whole life behind and became a Las Vegas stripper ?

Then what? Huh? Huh? 

Was listening to myself such a great idea? 

So I close my eyes and open myself up to absolutely anything and listen for just a second.

I ask myself tentatively, "Self, what do you need? What do you want? Self, if you could do absolutely anything in the world what would it be, right this minute? 

This was my self's response:

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Day 19

So sorry for the skip in days. I was going to try to post an entry for every day this month but catching up has turned out to be a bit unrealistic, especially this week, which has turned out to be quite the week.

The kids are going back to school in a few days and I am so, so bummed. We've been having such a good time together just being lazy and summery. I'm not ready for it to end not for them or for me. Especially not for me. (Is that a sentence? Hm. It feels like a sentence but I'm pretty sure it's missing a few things.) See! That shows you how totally not ready I am to go back to school. I need at least another month of lazing in the hammock. And not wondering about school type things. Even though I love school, and new school supplies and fall. FALL!

Is there any season more divine?

I'll save my ode's to fall for later. Tonight, I want to give a quick book report.

I'm half way through with Eat, Pray, Love. I've read it before, many years ago, but I don't recall it being quite so meaningful then. Last time I read it I was in a nursing mother stupor. The thought of traveling the world felt like such a foreign concept. All I wanted was some friggen sleep!

Anyway, I am thoroughly enjoying the book this time. Thoroughly. I'm not sure if I share all Elizabeth Gilbert's beliefs but I love her warm, honest prose. And so much of the book is thought provoking. It's forced me to stop and think. Though I think it may have contributed to my over consumption of gelato in Park City.

When Food is Love is really the book I want to write about briefly. I don't want to go into a mountain of details tonight so I'll sum up quickly. I do believe the book to be life changing for me. It was one of the hardest, gut wrenching books for me to read (so much of it rang painfully true) but when I was finished I felt like I had a much clearer understanding of myself and where I would like to be.

So, after much deliberation, I am going to give what Geneen Roth proposes a try. I am going to attempt intuitive eating.


That's right. I am going to eat whatever I want whenever I want to eat it.

No more rules about fruits and vegetables, counting calories or fiber or not eating after seven p.m. I am going to trust my body—double gulp—to tell me what it wants and when.

Sweet Monkey's, I'm having heart palpitations. Do I even dare trust myself with something so daunting when I am such a food freak? I've been carefully monitoring everything I eat for ten years. I could tell you the calorie count on just about any food on this continent.

And I am going to throw caution to the wind and just eat what I want? I feel faint. No more than faint, dizzy, euphoric, absolutely terrified.

I'll explain more on the how's and why's of my decision later. I just shout/squeak/whimper that I am jumping off the edge of the emotional eating roller coaster and I'm hoping/praying for a soft landing.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Day 13

If you happen to end up in Garden Valley Idaho, might I suggest a trip to the hot springs?

Yes, it is warm, even when outside temps are not.

Yes, there is room for all of your friends. 

Yes, I may be sitting on the edge of an old piece of wool carpet someone dragged across the river, up a sidehill, and dropped in the hot springs so they wouldn't have to sit on rocks. (Eew.) 

No, I did not develop a scary rash or worry about getting one from sitting on a nasty piece of old, wool carpet. (Okay, maybe I worried a little.) 

After a soak and a trip down the river, you will want to buy a cabin with room for all of your friends...

And when you do, you might want to make them 
an Asiago Sourdough Sandwich that's a perfect make ahead picnic treat big enough for a crowd. 

Asiago Sourdough Sandwich

1 french style loaf of Asiago Sourdough Bread (or plain french loaf)
1 cup parmesan, garlic mayo (recipe follows)
6 green leaf lettuce leaves
1 red, 1 green bell pepper, sliced into rounds
1/2 -3/4  lb. hard salami, sliced thin
1/2 - 3/4 lb. chicken breast, sliced thin
1/2 - 3/4 lb. black forest ham, sliced thin
10 slices provolone cheese 

Cut a canoe shaped wedge of of center of sourdough loaf, remove top of loaf and trim crust to create a lid. Clean out bottom within an inch of crust. Save bread trimmings for other use. Spread parmesan spread on top and bottom of bread shell. Layer lettuce, salami, chicken breast, black forest ham and provolone on sandwich. Wrapped tightly in cling wrap and store in refrigerator or cooler up to three days. When ready to serve, unwrap, add sliced bell peppers and serve. Serves 8-12

Parmesan Mayo

1 cup light mayonnaise 
1-2 tbls fresh minced garlic
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 tbls dried onion flakes (Such as Select Seasons Onion Melody)

Combine all ingredients in small mixing bowl. Transfer to airtight container. Chill at least 30 minutes. Serve as sandwich or wrap spread or as a quick chip dip. Will keep one week if refrigerated. 

Day 12

Today we are in Garden Valley, Idaho.

It is cold and wet and beautiful and I wish I lived here.

This part of Idaho is beautiful, lush and green and so, so peaceful. It rained hard yesterday so today it smells amazing, like pine and sage and rushing water.

We are paddling the easiest section of river. A class one, no real dangers, just floating, enjoying the sights, letting my teenager learn to paddle on safe water.

Later . . .

I am sitting in our boat with my husband and my two youngest children. My daughter is in our one man inflatable. We float around a tremendous pine tree overturned in the river and see a girl with only her nose and terrified eyes above the water. She was in a kayak and overturned in the branches of the pine tree. In river speak, it's called a strainer. She is snagged on the edge of it, flipped and pinned nearly upside down.

Three kayakers are trying to help her but even on a flat section of water, the current is powerful.

Suddenly we are in a nightmare. Down stream, my daughter eddy's out against a bank of cliffs. She knows a strainer is dangerous.  My husband grabs another paddlers boat and runs up stream to help the kayaker. I drag my own boat with my five and ten year old to the shore, my eyes jumping from my husband, to the kayaker, to my daughter.

I feel small and powerless.

My children and I pray. What else can we do?

Then I wait, wondering if this girl is going to drown before my children's eyes.

The kayaker screams as the men try to rip her out of the boat.

"She's slipping."
"Don't let her go under."
"Grab her."

I've never seen anyone die before.

But then I see her white helmet. She is in a man's arms.

My husband paddles her trembling body to the shore. Our friend Amy and I tend to her.

I wrap a paddler jacket around her shoulders, give her water, stroke her long dark hair.

Her lips are blue, she's badly bruised, shaking, but she is alive.

Even later . . .

I see the kayaker at camp. She the thick bruises on her thighs are darkening. I want to hug her like I'd hold my daughter. But when I see her, I hesitate. She doesn't know me, after all, I am just a stranger on the river.

So I make pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw, three bean salad and strawberry shortcake with whipped cream and offer to feed her and her rescuers. She doesn't have an appetite but her rescuers gladly accept my offer. One of them has two servings of shortcake.

We are all alive.

Today is a good day.

Day 11

I am a worrier. I worry about a lot of things, big and small. 

I worry about having enough money to retire even though I'm only 35. I worry about letting the hotel room get too messy before the maid comes in to clean it. 

I worry that my 10 year old isn't getting enough hugs and that my 5 year old doesn't eat enough fiber. I worry that the Democrats will stay in the White House or that the Republicans will win it back. 

Sometimes my worrying makes daily life sort of uncomfortable. It makes me want to eat things that aren't good for me, like pink and white Iced Animal Cookies that taste like sugar and wax. 

I asked my friend K if she worries about anything, since she always seems so relaxed. She laughed and said that she only worries about the big stuff that she can control, like her children becoming axe murderers. 

I don't want my kids to become axe murderers either. 

Also, I'd like to be more relaxed.

So, I've been trying to only worry about things I can control.

Here is my list: 

-My 5 year old eating enough fiber
-Dental hygiene
-Ample hug distribution

All this not worrying has opened up a lot of mental free time
 so I can focus on be more relaxed. 

This new silence worries me
 and makes me want to eat pink and white Iced Animal Cookies that taste like wax. 

Being relaxed is hard. 

Day 10

Look what I found in the bargain bin at the evil big box store that shall not be named in this blog.

Amazon lists this book for $15.95 but I got it for (*drum roll*)

50 cents!

It had the silliest name of a self help book I'd ever read. Of course, for that price I had to own it. I also bought a book of mad libs, two sudoku books and a crossword puzzle for the long trip to Idaho. 

Since the crossword puzzles turned out to be impossible (Who is Alan Ladd anyway?) I started reading my bargain book. It turns out this book is a little gem.

 Ilene Beckerman is a humorist who didn't start writing professionally until her sixties. This book is a series of letters (she never sent) to beauty icons and to her teenage granddaughter about her personal (and funny) struggle with beauty, after she is invited to her sixth grade class reunion. It's written in an anecdotal way so it takes about an hour to read the whole thing cover to cover. And it is funny. 

It has great stuff it in, like this:

"My fourth-grade teacher, Miss Crystal, had eyebrows that met in the middle.
Miss Crystal never got married. That's what happens when your eyebrows meet in the middle. 
Unless, of course you're Frida Kahlo."-- Ilene Beckerman, Makeovers at the Beauty Counter of Happiness. 

I went back to the crossword puzzles later during a traffic jam in Boise. I didn't get very far. The pop culture references were all from 1964. 

Days 7, 8, and 9- My Summer vacation

Hello Blog world. It's been so long. I've finally broken my internet fast and am ready to bring you up to speed. I've just returned from my annual family summer vacation. Do you want to know what I did? 

Well . . . 

For the first four days of our trip we stayed in Park City, Utah. It's changed so much I hardly recognize the place. Man, do I miss my old stomping grounds on the backside of the Wasatch Mountain Range. Sigh. All kids should be so lucky to grow up in such a place. 

The Norse God and I took the kids to my old house. It's now a historic preservation site so it hasn't changed a bit. Alas, I don't have a picture to share. TNG photographed the whole vaycay. Unfortunately, he left the camera somewhere along the Payette River. (More on the Payette later.)  

All the pics were lost, which sucks big, sucky rocks since I'd catalogued some really cool stuff I was super psyched to share. I'm still hoping we'll find it, but at this point, it doesn't look good. 

Anyway, we stayed here. And I cannot rave enough about the Newpark Hotel. Holy Cow! 

It's hands down the nicest place I've ever stayed, at least with the children. Picture this: A huge two bedroom condo, with a separate master suite, two bathrooms with the biggest soaker tubs I'd ever seen, a fully stocked kitchen with the latest kitchen appliances, divine linens and bedding, a living/dining room, washer and dryer, LCD televisions in every room and a hot tub on the deck that overlooks a shopping complex below.

Did I mention the daily maid service? The immaculate gym? And the indoor/outdoor swimming pool we had to ourselves almost our entire stay? It was amazing. 

TNG and I promised ourselves we'd go back soon, just the two of us. Even though The Newpark was super kid friendly, it would be sheer heaven as a place for an extended weekend date. If you stay here, splurge and go for a suite with a hot tub on the balcony, then you can see all the action in the nature preserve and complex below. They offer little one bedroom suites, but you want a two bedroom, trust me. Here's a promo video I found on youtube. I know it's not as fantastic as the photos I had to share but it will give you a good idea of what the place was like, in a promotional "stay here" kind of way. You'll see a clip of the balconies. We stayed on the top floor in the balcony on the corner overlooking the complex below. 

But that is not the best part. We were three stories above the best gelato store in Utah and Kneaders Bakery. 

Dolcetti Gelato boasts the only hand made gelato in the state. I had apricot, lavender honey and vanilla bean. They rotate their menu daily depending on seasonal ingredients. You'll understand why I had to go back three times. And how can I possibly pick a favorite treat at Kneaders Bakery? Everything on the menu is to die for, but if you can't decide I highly recommend the Spice Cake with brown sugar icing. Or the Fruit Tart, piled high with fresh cream and berries on a delicate shortbread crust, or maybe the Key Lime Pie, perfectly balanced between sweet and tart. Oh, and the French Toast with cinnamon syrup is not to be missed! Remember food is a serious obsession of mine. 

We did a little school shopping, wandered through the shops in Old Park City, where I found the most divine balsamic vinegar and olive oil of my life, and in the evenings, lounged in the pool. (I'm still hoping to find the photo's from this portion of our trip—fingers crossed—I'll have some for you soon.)

I've really been trying to just enjoy the moment, live in the present, be at peace with where I am and what I am doing. Can I just say it made the entire experience that much more fabulous? 

But that was only the beginning. Wednesday morning we were on our way to Garden Valley Idaho for phase two of our grand summer adventure. 

Friday, August 6, 2010

Day 7

If you can at all relate to this:

"The years of coming home from school and wandering from empty room to empty room. I would sit on the beige-velvet couch and stare at the still-life painting . . . I would go into the kitchen and open the refrigerator door, close it, and then open it. Close it. Open it. Eat. I would walk into my mother's bedroom and smell the traces of Joy perfume, open her jewelry drawer, pick up a pair of gold hoop earrings and hold them to my ears. I would smile at myself in the mirror, pretend that I was at a party, say hello and raise my eyebrows."

It continues . . .

"I wanted my mother. I wanted my father to come home for dinner and tell my mother that she was pretty and that he loved her. I wanted my mother to come home for dinner and tell me that I was pretty and that she loved me. I wanted her to tell me that our world was not going to fly apart at any moment and that I could stop trying so hard to be good. "

Or this:

"My mom was sickly . . . so I became a caretaker at an early age. I was cooking Sunday dinners for all of [my dad and five siblings] when I was eight years old. This was the only time I received praise from Daddy, so I did more and more cooking, cleaning, babysitting--waiting like a dry sponge for something to soak up and make me feel useful, valid, like I deserved to be alive . . . I've been taking care of people since I was five years old,  [Don't ask me to take care of myself]. If I have to take care of one more person I am going to crack."

Then buy this book right now! 

I was very apprehensive to read it. The title sounded so cheesy.

What can I say? This book is amazing. Well, it sort of depends on your definition of amazing. I've already burst into tears four times (and I'm only on page 51) it strikes such a cord. Wow, is it helping me evaluate my own relationship with food, love and loss. Please, PLEASE read it, if you're an overeater, or an under-eater or if you've ever turned to food, or any other compulsive behaviors for emotional support. I think it could be a life changer.

I'm going on an internet fast for a few days. I'm going to finish reading this book and this one. I'll be back in a week with a full book report. You should read them too. I mean it. Go to your book store, library, favorite book lover's house and snatch them both up. We'll chat when I get back.



Thursday, August 5, 2010

Day 6

Guess what I'm doing? 

It's called the Cabarton Run in Idaho. And I'm doing it in my own boat!  Doesn't it look fun?! Thanks to TheDarwinK for the video! Wish me luck.

Day 5

It's only been five days and I've already learned something significant about myself. I care too much about too many things. So, as a means to lighten my load—emotionally speaking—I am turning off my comments. I just care too much about what you have to say—or don't say for that matter— and that is no way to get to know myself. 

So, I'm officially, for real, turning this into an online journal.

 Because I think it might be easier to be honest if my voice is the only one I hear. 

I love you all and do hope you keep reading. But for now the comment board needs to be dark.

Hugs to you all!


Day 4

Today was a step backward on the road to self discovery.

Three words:
Mint Grasshopper Pie 

Need I say more? 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Day 3

Dear Mary,

Thank you for your concern. I so appreciate your empathy. But your comments made me wonder if I needed to make a few clarifications about the journey I'm sharing. Perhaps I wasn't as clear as I would have liked and now I need to offer an explanation. 

In February, I received an email. It was a personal rejection to my full manuscript from one of the biggest agents in the business. Here is an excerpt for your reading pleasure. 

 "Dear K.

I think I am going to pass on your [Y.A. novel]. You are very good, no question. But I am thinking about what editors would say. The story takes too long to get going . . . It's a cool idea  But I am not sure it is fresh enough. The stuff in this book has been covered before in other books and [television] shows . . . But I would read something by you. You can write and create characters.  That's the hardest part. Now you need to move your stories along and have a clearer, unique concept.  Thanks for letting me see. It's borderline but I need to feel blown away these days.”

Here was my dilemma. When I received this email, I didn't have the reaction I was expecting. I was expecting immediate despair. But instead, I was completely awash with relief and it surprised me. 

All my life I wanted to be Josephine March in Little Women. I had no doubt that one day I would write a book and my life would be wonderful, perhaps even perfect. But the truth is I don't really like writing novels. I don't like the hours, I don't like the singleminded attention it requires. I don't like the way that it pulls me away from everything I do love and believe me I love a whole lot. I have a VERY rich full life. But at 35 years old, I realized I didn't have a plan B.

I had the tremendous opportunity to almost get what I thought I wanted and I got to see, really see, that what I really wanted all along was sitting right in front of me. When this letter arrived, A peace washed over me and I knew that I had been released. I was free to live whatever life I wanted, not the life I'd always planned that never went well for me, but my real life, the life God had planned for me. 

It was a stunner. It was wonderful and spiritual but also tremendously painful because at that moment I had to ask myself one of life's biggest questions. What next? 

If what I thought I always wanted wasn't want I wanted at all, then what did I really want? And how much crow would I have to eat to get it? 

The answer? I don't know. That's where I am now and I thought it might be fun to share a year of it with you and my other readers. I thought it might be a great learning experience. 

Because the truth is Mary, that for two years I used my novel as a way to escape reality. Because sometimes the doldrums of life get to me: the never ending laundry, persnickety neighbors, doctors appointments, the recession and countless stories of violence and wars can get pretty depressing. So like most American's I have plugged into the Feed. Whether it is a book, or blog, social network, movie, or a hot fudge brownie momentarily all those feelings disappear. 

But in the long run, I hate the feeling. I hate avoiding pain. 

Because I know that pain is an essential part of life, heck it's an essential part of our growth and existence. Isn't  that why we are here? Because our Heavenly Father knew in our premortal existence that we had developed as much as we could and the only way we could continue to grow was in mortality. And what is a one of most significant pieces of mortality? Pain. Pain and Sorrow and Pleasure and Joy. All of our experiences lead to growth. Without sorrow we can never experience joy! Without pain we can't know pleasure. They are inseparable. And essential in pairs to our growth and existence. 

I find it remarkable that most of life's greatest temptations are anchored in sorrow and pain avoidance: addictions, adultery, pornography, eating disorders (starving and binge eating), the list can go on for days. 

Please don't misunderstand me.  I am not an advocate for self flagellation. I like to avoid painful experiences as much as the next person. But I saw quite clearly that I was using the fantasy of novel writing the same way I used the fantasy of having the perfect body, or the same way I used EL Fudge cookies earlier in my life. I realized that if I needed any sort of pain avoidance to deal with reality then it was high time I fixed my reality. 

So what needed to be fixed exactly? 

Nothing. Not really. I just needed to learn how to deal with it. And here is what I have spent the past twenty plus years learning. If there is a weed in your yard that you don't like, ignoring it won't make it go away. Yes, I'm all for enjoying the beautiful flowers behind it, but really isn't life so much easier if we just get up off our duffs and pull it? 

Everything worth having, really having, in this life requires work (a.k.a. pain), like running for example. Running along a wild flower swept hill at sunrise is about as close to God and Joy as it gets but the actual act of getting there requires a certain level of physical pain. 

You know, before I started running all those years ago, I used to believe that there would come a time when running wouldn't be hard (painful). That one day it would be a breeze, no heavy breathing, or feet dragging, or exhaustion. But you know what? It still feels the same as it did the first time I stepped out the door, I just learned how to deal with the pain and that is where I've found the joy. The two go hand in hand. 

Now onto your comment about wallowing in the past. I can see how from your limited perspective of my life in blog it can seem that I am hyper-focused on past sorrows. But that is not what I am doing at all. I never dealt with some big, painful events in my life. I just tucked them away and decided to ignore them. Instead I went searching for happy things to make me feel better (pain avoidance). But if you leave dirty dishes in the sink eventually they are going to make the kitchen stink. Oh sure, starting on those dishes might make a bigger mess at first, but in the long run isn't clearing out the stench so much better? Basically, I am doing some emotional deep house cleaning. 

So why have I chosen to focus on food and my body image? I spend a lot of time working with youth, young women in particular. It turns out, I have something to offer them and what I love most, besides being a mom, is teaching and I've recently been doing a series of workshops for young women about body image and I have been astounded at how many of women don't like themselves. 

Actually, I have a pretty healthy self image (I'm still working on the emotional stuff). I take care of my body and I nourish it with healthy food, rest and exercise. I think I am very pretty. But some of the girls from these youth groups have contacted me recently and wanted to know how they can feel better about themselves. And some of those girls don't believe me when I tell them that even grown women have doubts about themselves. 

So I thought why don't I combine my experiences over the past year with the current obsession over body and food and share some real challenges that every women experiences. Because maybe if I had the guts to admit that sometimes I reconsider going to a party on a fat day, and want to delve into a quart of Breyers Grasshopper Pie Ice Cream when I hear on the news that a child is beaten to death by his parents, then maybe other women will come forward and admit that life isn't always easy for them either and instead of trying to tear each other down, or compete, or compare, we can to see that as women we are in this together. And that Satan wants to keep us so focused on pain and sorrow avoidance that we paralyze our ability to do some serious good. Heck, maybe even change the world. 

Yes, Mary, this has been a difficult year for me but also one of the very best. I feel closer to the Savior than I have in years. I have deeply feasted on the words of Christ and I am now seeing, really seeing who I am and who you are. And it is wonderful, and joyful and full of a promising future. 

I love you. And I am so grateful I've had the experience to watch you grow. I hope you stick around on my journey maybe we can learn a little about life together. 

(Dear Readers, Thank you for sticking through this incredibly long post. I feel I owe you a treat, like a melon berry salad or an enormous hug. Thank you for sticking with me. Mwah! With my deepest love. Kristi) 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Day 2

I ran with the sunflowers this morning. They were glorious, tall and plump with seeds. I run or bike that section of road nearly everyday and today was the first time I've noticed them. So I'm wondering, did they all blossom overnight or is this the first morning I was looking for them?

Day 1 1/2

After church, I felt much better. About myself, and life, and even my neighbor. God gently whispered in my heart that he knew me and loved me and was aware of my joys and hurts, as well as my neighbors and I wanted to give her a hug.

My hubby's asked for a nickname. He says that if the kids get them. He wants one too. He suggested The Norse God. I call him that sometimes when he does something particularly manly. Because, you know, he's got those grey eyes, and broad shoulders and incredible height like a broad Viking ship . . .


Yesterday was his birthday and he got a little weepy over his birthday gift. Which made me burst with joy! It is so fun to watch his eyes light up like they did.

Then I served individual lime coconut cheesecakes to him and the kids. I ate half of one myself. It was a pretty treat, delicious and completely excessive since I threw a get-together for him a few hours later—sort of spur of the moment—and invited a few of our friends.

Well, somehow a few friends turned into 60 people and we had a full blown shindig. I served lemon vanilla cheesecake, two kinds of pie, lemon curd bars and dreamcicles and ice cream sandwiches for the kids. See why the mini lime cheesecakes were excessive?

We laughed, and talked and—ahem—ate, while God put on quite a light show over the desert.

And I didn't need to eat to feel okay. Because I'd surrounded myself with people I adore and that was enough.

Day 1

Yesterday, I woke late. I really wanted to use it as an excuse not to go to church. I was feeling edgy and thought it was a good idea to avoid people until I felt nice again.

But I knew I'd feel better if I went.

Plus church gives me the chance to wear some of my favorite shoes. For this Sunday, it was a fantastic pair of wing-tips with HIGH heels that make me want to admire my feet under the pew. The kids call them my witch shoes. Because of how they look, I hope, and not because they reflect how I behave when I wear them.

The shirt I wanted to wear wasn't ironed. So I had to pull the ironing board out of the coat closet in my office and the iron out of the cabinet in the laundry room and hunt down the water bottle in the kids bathroom (Why don't I keep all this stuff in the same place?).

So I had to wear my hair curly. . .


to save time.

Which reminded me that I really need a hair appointment but, you know, we are in a recession. So my roots had to show and it really made me want a lemon curd shortbread bar and grilled green onions, not together, of course.

We were late for church . . .


We had to sit on the hard folding chairs in the back. Which made me want to tap my wing-tipped witch shoes on the hard wood floor. I didn't. Instead. I watched my Viking Princess color pretty ponies. And I wondered why we all can't sit on the floor, sometimes, with a box of bright crayons. Because every church going kid knows metal folding chairs make fantastic art tables.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

To eat or not to eat...

I don't know what I want this blog to be. Sometimes I think I want to share only funny stories from my life. Sometimes I want to be a whistle blower to all the injustice I see around me and other times I want to share what I learn with others.

But what I want the most is to tell the truth. Even though it scares the bejeebers out of me. Because this year has been tough and I feel like I've been dragged through some kind of refiners fire and right now I feel like a big glob of hot bubbling goo.

I've realized I have old wounds I never let heal. Big painful wounds from my childhood and adolescence that I stuffed away and tried to ignore.

Food is my go-to-drug of choice for everything: celebrations, sorrows. It is the end all be all to personal comfort. When it comes to food my memory is freak-show good. Like put me in a side-show impressive. I may not be able to tell you everything I saw on my recent trip to New York, but I can describe in the finest detail what I ate and where I ate it. I can tell you what I talked about while I ate it and what I want to eat when I go back. In fact, I can detail meals from every significant event in my life and most of the insignificant ones too. I am completely obsessed with food.

It's been a constant battle for me. I am either psycho disciplined, managing to lower my weight to 105 lbs (I'm 5'4") and leading my doctor to warn me that my BMI is dangerously low. To eating NINE oatmeal raisin cookies in five minutes flat.(I can still remember how they smell).  When emotional issues get tough, I eat my way out of the sorrow.

I've never measured life by my accomplishments. I measure it by my fat or thinness. Could I wear my favorite sweater to the Christmas party without a slight bulge around my bra line? Yes? Then it was a good year. Did I feel like my size 4 capris were too tight at the 4th of July parade? Yes? Bad year why don't I kill myself now.

Well, now is a bad year. Not because I've gained a ton of weight, I have gained about 10 lbs. and I loath every miserable pound. But because of why I gained the weight. Because of the voices dictating that I am not enough to the point I want to bury myself in a bag of cheetos until I can't hear any of it.

I don't want my life dictated by food and weight and body image anymore. I don't want to shut myself away and numb myself with food! It's seriously messed with my mojo.

As an example, when I was in my first year of college I had the opportunity to travel to California with some fellow friends and audition for a talent scout. But I didn't go. I didn't believe I had a chance, not because of my talent. I was a good enough actress. I just thought I was too fat. Too fat to even try, too fat to even go on a road trip. I weighed 118 lbs.

I could list missed opportunities related to how I felt about myself for days.

A few years ago when I lost 65 lbs I thought I had it all figured out. But the only thing that really changed was my pant size. Instead of bingeing away my hurt, I controlled it by only eating 1100 calories daily (I was running 25 miles + a week and doing yoga, pilates and strength training for hours. and I had no refined sugar for two solid years!)

At the time I measured this as a great success. I had mastered my body and my life. It was time to pursue my dreams and write a novel. Not that I'd written all that much before. I mean, I did write sporadically when an idea would take hold but I was one of those writers who was waiting for the gifted story to come to me in a dream and write it down in a two week frenzy.(Since the weight loss didn't accomplish it.)

Long story short, (too late) I wrote a book but it took two years. I learned a ton and got rejected. Even if it would have sold it wouldn't have changed anything either.

I still hurt. I still have old heartaches and fears. They never went away. And now I know they won't. Not until I open the closet and let them out. Even if I consume all the oatmeal raisin cookies in the world. Which sounds like a better alternative. Frankly, being overstuffed and ill sounds better then letting in the hurt or all of the voices telling me I'm not good enough, smart enough, or pretty enough for a real life. A whole life. A happy life.

Which is where I am now, cleaning out my emotional closet.

I'm scared.

Not by what I'll find in there, I've been cleaning out that emotional closet for about six months now, but the pain that comes with it. So far, it really, really hurts.

Some days it's more than I can handle. Like today when my neighbor called to chastise me for having rude, hooligan children who won't play with her little darlings. It makes me feel raw and desperate for something—anything—to take away the agony of dealing with my past demons and HERconsecutively. So, I made a cheesecake—or two.

I had to run back to the only thing that has never abandoned me, or judged me, or sucker punched my self worth. Because I didn't have the cajones to tell this neighbor that I don't blame my kids one bit for avoiding her children. I wouldn't want to play with her darlings either!

I don't want to live in the future or the past anymore. I don't want to obsess over what I will or will not have for dessert tomorrow. I want to learn to live a real life without drama, or fantasy, or unrealistic expectations. I want to get to know me.

Care to join me?