I found my summer jam in January

So this song came out in June 2010 but I just heard it for the first time last night during the pre-show for “True Grit” at the Alamo. How am I always so behind on this stuff?

Mark Ronson & The Business INTL “Bang Bang Bang”

I don’t know that I was ever really cool or hip or cutting edge but having a baby has somehow made me even more disconnected from pop culture. I guess I can add “be cooler” to my list of non-resolutions this year.

Also, “True Grit” was holy shit fucking rad. If you haven’t seen it you better go while it’s still on the big screen. You will laugh, you will cry, you will be like, wow. The star of the movie was only 13 when it was filmed and this is her first film, she’s amazing, the whole cast is amazing and the film is just beautiful and fantastic and Coen-y. You will love it.

What's in a resolution?

There is always a lot of talk about resolutions at this time of year. It’s like we think because it’s a new year then things can be different, we can be different. But January 1st is just another day, and any day you can wake up and decide to do things differently. I confess that I have always loved having my birthday on New Year’s Day, simply because of the whole idea of the fresh start of a new year. I think, this year things will be different, I will finally transform myself into the person I want to be! Of course it usually doesn’t play out that way. The most life-changing decisions come at unremarkable times, sparked by circumstances and events rather than a calendar day. When I think of the most important changes I’ve consciously made in my life, the truth is that none are particularly romantic or dramatic, or happened in a single day. Who wants to hear about that? Or think about the reality that true change in who you are, or the life you have, usually takes effort, or at least some thought, on a daily basis. I haven’t made any official resolutions this year because the past few years my resolutions have been more like to do lists hovering over my head and nagging me to be better better better. I don’t want to feel bad about myself or my decisions, even though I do want to be better. I don’t want another item on my to do list, or another list of things that seem impossible to accomplish or just stress me out.

If I had to pick a resolution for this year it would be: ACCEPTANCE. For me, acceptance is more of a life lesson than something that is reasonable to accomplish in a year or check off a list, but I like the idea of holding that thought close and letting it shape my days.

Also: have more fun! This one doesn’t need any explaining, and if you think it does, then it should probably be on your list, too.

Late to the party

Ever since I quit my job to take care of Dylan I have been out of the loop. I wasn’t super on top of what’s cool when I was working, but now it’s comical how out of touch I am. I find out about stuff months after it’s had its moment and then I email links to Brian and am all DID YOU SEE THIS IT’S SO COOL and he’s like oh, I thought you saw that, it’s old, it was big on Twitter. Sigh.

Two recent examples of me being late to the party are below. I am posting them in the off chance that there is someone even less connected than me who might appreciate these lovely bits of the Internet.

The Wilderness Downtown, Chris Milk’s interactive film music video thing. I knew what it was going to be and I still cried because I am emotional like that. Go do it if you haven’t already! (Yeah, I know, you did it months ago when it was all over Twitter.)

Christoph Niemann’s NY Times blog. It’s almost painful that one person could be endowed with so much talent, nevertheless, I am grateful. This made me cry, too, because it’s that funny.

Monday

shadow

2-day weekends feel like the government’s way of punishing us. For what, I don’t know. It’s inhumane.

Today Dylan only napped long enough for me to paint my toenails. Which means that I didn’t get any of the other 8,796 things on my to do list done. Priorities, people!

I think I need to wean myself off the Internet at least a little bit. Being alone in the house with the baby so much is making me a little crazy-addicted to checking email and reading blogs and such. And of course this pseudo-connecting doesn’t really assuage the loneliness, it just makes me restless and cranky and I want to do something more tangible.

brussels sprouts

I made Brussels sprouts for dinner. I have hated them all my life and then I decided out of the blue that carmelized Brussels sprouts sounded really good. I remembered a recipe I saw on Heidi’s site a long time ago and I made it for Thanksgiving and now I can’t believe I ever hated Brussels sprouts. They have appeared on our weekly menu three times recently and I still can’t get enough. Yay brassicas!

The short story

I suppose I have returned to blogging. Just a little post here or there lately, but I know I am back now. I never meant to take a break from blogging, especially not a 5-month break, but that’s how things turned out and that is okay. I still don’t know what I am doing with this blog, but there are a lot of things I want to do. I am going to try to not get all worked up about it and just see what happens. Let’s fight the good fight against paralyzing type-A perfectionism!

I feel like I owe my few readers some sort of explanation for the sudden disappearance because it always bugs me when a blog I have been enjoying just suddenly stops. There is a long story and a short story. I would like to tell the long story at some point, but for now, the short story is that I was both very busy and also quite depressed. It took a while for me to figure out something was wrong, but I got some help and I am feeling so much better. I sleep at night, have more good days than bad days, and no longer feel like I might be ruining my child by being an awful person. I am finding myself and living my life again, and I am so, so grateful to be doing it.

Repeat after me

Me: I can’t believe it, something ate the cauliflower right out of my garden!
Dylan: Garden!

Me: C’mon honey, we have to go to the store.
Dylan: Kong!

Me: When we are done with snack, we can go play outside.
Dylan: Outside, outside, outside!

Me: I think you have a load in your pants, I can smell it.
Dylan: Looooad!

What happens if you really try?

One of my CrossFit coaches, Jen Cardella, recently challenged her clients in the Women’s Only program to get their pull-ups before the gym closes for the holidays. The challenge was complete with prizes for the first 20 girls to either get their first kipping pull-up, or (if they already had their kip) five strict pull-ups. I’ve had my pull-ups before so I was unfazed and was like, “Yeah, I’ma get my kip AND five strict! Awww yeah! Bring it!” And then I got up on the bar to really practice for the first time and it was hard. And I remembered that the last time I had my pull-ups was two years ago before I got pregnant. Oh.

I worked on my pull-ups after every class. I got one strict, but that didn’t count for Jen’s challenge and I couldn’t coordinate the kip so I was just annoyed with myself.  Then I took 10 days off and lost my one strict pull-up. I tried to do it at the playground a few times and just couldn’t get up over the bar. Ugh. I went back to class a couple weeks ago, and although I’m not going as often as I wish I were, I’m doing what I can while prioritizing sleep because that is my big project lately. I am trying to be okay with just doing what I can, that’s a revelation for me.

Today I felt sluggish at the beginning of class. I haven’t been in a week and was ready to use that as an excuse for not pushing myself as hard. The workout was tough and made me confront two of my big weaknesses head-on (lifting something heavy over my head and sit-ups, if you’re interested to know). I did it but I felt slow and it wasn’t super fun. I decided to work on my pull-ups after class even though my arms were beat from the workout. I did some negatives and a strict pull-up (complete with ridiculous frog-legs) and then decided to just try a kip and see what would happen. I did not expect to do it. And then something funny happened, it felt good to be up on the bar and practicing my swing so I thought, what if I really try to do a kipping pull-up? Well, I got my kip is what happened. Two in a row, and after a break I got two more. I realized a few things: 1) I was NOT really trying during today’s workout,  2) There are a lot of times when I don’t really try during the workout (or during my life, for that matter), 3) Really trying feels a whole lot better than just kind of trying.

Now, really trying all the time at everything would be crazy. Of course you are not going to bring your A-game all the time no matter what, but how often do you just kind of try at something out of habit, when you have what you need to really try? More intensity is not something I need in my life right now but more honest effort is. So I am going to start approaching things from the perspective that the priorities and goals I set for myself deserve an honest effort. What would happen if you gave a real honest effort to the next challenge that confronts you? Would there be a different outcome than if you half-assed it? Maybe, probably. More importantly, would you feel differently? I’m betting YES. Being honest with yourself is empowering. So if you are going to half-ass something, fine, but don’t pretend like that’s all you’ve got, because if you do you are selling yourself short.

Things I learned today

I had kind of a bad day today. I learned three helpful things in the process, though, so I guess that made it worthwhile:

  1. Even if you can squeeze into those jeans, that doesn’t mean you should.
  2. Going outside, especially out in public, will make it better.
  3. There are a few real gems on that new Les Savy Fav album.

Cocoa-Nut Coconut Snacks

These snacks are dense and satisfying with an irresistable chocolatey-cinnamony flavor. Perfect as a between-meal snack or as dessert with a cup of tea. Brian affectionately refers to them as “nut balls.” Mmmm, appetizing!

I started with this recipe and tweaked it to suit my tastes. Here’s my version:

Cocoa-Nut Coconut Snacks

  • 1/2 cup each:
    • Almonds
    • Walnuts
    • Pecans
    • Hazelnuts
    • Pumpkin seeds
  • 5 dates, pits removed (use 6 dates if yours are small)
  • 1/2 cup shredded or flaked coconut
  • 2 Tbsp virgin coconut oil (It’s best if the coconut oil is not totally solid; mine was liquidy with chunks & that worked well.)
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (Use the good stuff, please. Ghirardelli is my go-to cocoa powder.)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut to roll the finished snacks in

Grind the nuts and pumpkin seeds in a food processor until ground into a fine flour. Dump the nut flour into a mixing bowl. Grind the dates and coconut in the food processor until they make a uniform paste; it will look lumpy but if you touch it the texture will be sticky and pastey. Add the date-coconut paste to your mixing bowl and mix with the nut flour. Add cocoa powder & cinnamon and mix well. Be sure to break up all the lumps in your cocoa powder! Finally, add the coconut oil and mix very well, until it is completely uniform. Compress the mixture into balls and then roll them in the shredded coconut. I found that the best technique was to really squeeze the mixture hard and form the compressed lumps into balls with my fingertips because the mixture is kind of crumbly and doesn’t respond well to rolling. Use your powerful grip and pretend you’re making diamonds out of coal! Refrigerate your snacks to firm them up.

Another (easier) technique is to make bars rather than balls. To make bars, line a 9×13 baking dish with wax paper (let the paper hang over the edge of the dish a little bit) and press the mixture into the dish really really hard. You want it to be very densely packed into the dish. Freeze the dish overnight. Once frozen, use the wax paper to lift the frozen slab of cocoa-nut coconut snack mixture out of the baking dish. Set the slab on a cutting board and use a very sharp knife to cut into bars. As these snacks are dense and filling, you’ll want to make smaller sized pieces than if you were cutting up brownies.

Regardless of whether you make balls or bars, they should also be stored in the fridge to maintain freshness and because I think they taste better cold. I actually really like them best straight from the freezer–they get kind of crumbly and cookie-like in texture when frozen. Also, if you live in a warm climate be warned that these snacks may lose some of their integrity if they get too warm because of the coconut oil turning into a liquid. Enjoy!

Walking the Walk

Those that know me know that I talk a big game. Now it’s time for me to put some concrete actions behind all that talk. I’ve made a career out of helping other people get their shit together–personally and professionally. I am great at it and I love doing it. But the problem is that I am not always so great at doing it for myself, at least not consistently. Isn’t consistency, with anything, always the hardest thing?

I’ve taken some time away from this blog lately because I needed the mental space to figure out how I am going to walk the walk and get my own shit together. Where am I now, where do I want to go, and how am I going to get there? Back in January I wrote about my resolution for this year. It was fairly abstract, so I also came up with more concrete goals that I kept to myself. My number one goal for this year is to heal from my back injury and become stronger and fitter than I have ever been. Time is essential for me to reach this goal, but there is also a lot of effort involved. Time is passing, which means that my broken bone must be healing, but on the effort front, things have kind of fallen apart. I’m not taking care of myself as well as I should be. I’ve been spreading myself too thin and trying to focus on too many things. Getting healthy and strong is my top goal for this year, but it is not my only goal. In fact, I’m kind of embarrassed to admit how many goals were on my list, especially since I always force my clients to limit the number of goals they set!

So recently, as part of my effort to attain my most important goals, I cut my list of things to accomplish this year by more than half. That was hard. I like to achieve! A lot! And I’m really positive so of course I would look at my list of 50 goals and say, “Oh, sure I can do all of that! Piece of cake!” But if I want to achieve, I need to focus. Focusing means that I took my goal of being strong and healthy and determined what I need to do daily in order to achieve that goal. Healing from a broken back isn’t all fun and games, you know! In addition to the fun and I games I also need to: take my vitamins and supplements, sleep a minimum of 8 hours every night, and do trigger point every day. Three things that are much easier said than done, but I am determined to walk the walk and make them happen. No more inadequate sleep, no more skipping vitamins and trigger point out of laziness or distraction. No matter what, these are the things I will prioritize every day. My goal of health, strength, and fitness is itself important, but even more important is that attaining this goal will enable me to achieve all of the other things I want to accomplish.

Remember, if you have a lot of things on your plate or many things that you want to accomplish but you feel stuck or overwhelmed, start with your health. Taking care of your physical self produces results quickly, and those results (more energy, clearer head, and ability to handle stress better, just to name a few) will help you tackle challenges in other areas of your life with more ease and success.