Sunday, November 24, 2013

Another church talk


My topic was supposed to be gratitude and abundance. I mostly just talked about myself.
My name is Katie (insert last name here). I’ve been in the ward now for about 2 months, so if you still don’t know me, here I am for about the next 10 minutes.  The three most commonly asked questions people generally want to know about me so far have been, where I moved from, why I moved to Bountiful and how am I liking the ward. I usually give the reader’s digest version of my answers, but since I have some time to fill, and you have no choice but to hear me I’ll tell you a part my story.
I was born in Sacramento and then as a kid my family moved to Antioch in the east SF bay area in California, which is where my parents still live. The town I just moved from was Paradise, California which is about 2 hours north of Sacramento near Chico. I was there for a little over 2 years working at the local hospital as an RN.
I don’t have a logical reason as to why I chose Bountiful over any other place. I had moved to Paradise for a job and knew going there I wouldn’t want to stay there forever. I loved the hospital and people I worked with, and although I found a few treasured friends, my social life there was not what I wanted it to be. I knew something had to change when I finally had a Friday night off and decided to go for a run and watch a movie by myself rather than drive 40 minutes to go to a YSA activity where most of the crowd would make me feel matronly.
This past summer I had an experience at work that allowed me to reflect on the things I really wanted and which ultimately led me to move here. I was asked by my boss to apply for a position that had opened up in our unit. It was not a position I normally would have wanted or applied for on my own, but I was flattered that I was sought out and asked. I like to be helpful and I always feel that new experiences (especially at work) shouldn’t be passed over, so I applied and interviewed for that position. The first interview went really well. The second interview, not so much. Hands down the worst interview I’ve ever been a part of. I don’t know why, but I could not formulate an intelligent response to hardly any of the questions presented to me and I felt so dumb. I left the interview questioning if this was something I actually wanted? I got home and felt so uneasy I couldn’t sit down. I paced back and forth trying to figure out my feelings.
After several minutes of pacing (it might have only been a few minutes, I’m a terrible judge of time) I decided that if by some miracle they still wanted me for the position, I had to say no. That thought was followed with the impression that the time had come for me to leave Paradise. For my entire 2 years there, even though I knew I would leave eventually I always put off deciding where I would go telling myself it wasn’t time to worry about it yet, hoping something would just come to me because it was a hard decision. I thought to myself, ok then, if I’m not supposed to take this position, and I’m supposed to go away, then WHERE am I supposed to move to? And as soon as the thought passed, Salt Lake City came to mind. I had dismissed any idea of moving to Utah in the past, but this time I let that hang out in my head for a minute as I considered it, and as I did my unsettled feelings went away and I was finally able to sit down. It turns out they offered the position to another nurse who had applied with more experience than I had anyway, so I didn’t even have to tell them no and I had never been so grateful to have had a crummy interview.
Before I had enough courage to give my resignation, I kept wondering if I was doing the right thing and prayed and prayed and prayed for a reconfirmation of what I felt the morning after that awful interview. I was given the thought that it would be scary until I did it, and I just needed to do it, and it needed to be soon. I gave my work a month’s notice without having another job lined up or a place to live yet in Utah because I felt like it was the right thing to do and for some reason I just knew my last day at my previous job HAD to be no later than the end of August. I was checking out Utah nursing job postings daily, but knew that Utah wasn’t lacking in nurses and in order to be seriously considered for a job I would need to have a Utah address and a UT nursing license which I was still in the process of applying for. I expected I would be doing most of my job hunting once I arrived in the state, so I didn’t waste too much time applying for jobs during my last month in California, but I did apply to a couple just to test the waters. There was one job posting I found that I felt I just HAD to apply to even though I already threw out my couple “let’s see how this goes” applications with the expected rejection emails in return. I applied, never heard back from them and then never gave it much thought. I didn’t feel impressed to apply for any other jobs after that and spent my focus on finding a new place to live, completing my UT nurse license application and getting ready to move.
I took the week before my last week of work off and came by myself to Salt Lake City to find somewhere to live in person rather than just via the internet and get my fingerprints done in order to complete my application for a UT nursing license.  Every place I went to look at in Salt Lake felt wrong. I didn’t even have to get out of my car to see the inside of anywhere to know I wasn’t supposed to live in any of those places. It wasn’t until I checked out a few places in Woods Cross and Bountiful that I started feeling closer to right. It was the day before my last day in Utah and I had only one more place left to see in Bountiful, but the property manager or realtor or whatever he was couldn’t see me until the next day so I drove over to check out the outside and neighborhood anyway since I had nothing else to do. I loved the neighborhood, and even though I didn’t see the inside, I wasn’t feeling great about that place either. Something told me I should just keep driving around and maybe I’d see some kind of a sign, because this neighborhood was like the “hot” in the hotter colder game. 
Sure enough, after a few minutes driving down (insert specific street name here) there was sign with an arrow on it pointing down (insert another specific street name here) declaring there was a duplex for rent- which is what I was looking for. I didn’t want to have to live in an apartment complex. I drove until I found the matching sign in the yard and fell in love. It was the only place I had seen that I had any kind of positive reaction to. It was a strong “I really really want to live here, I am going to live here, I just have to live here” feeling. I called the number on the sign, left a message after a strange automated recording  worried that it wouldn’t work out, but feeling like it just had to and there was no way it couldn’t. It did. The owners called me back later that night. Everything about the place met my major needs and wants and was the right price. I was able to see the place the next morning, paid my security deposit that same day, was told I could move in any time after the current tenants were out after the 2nd week of September and I never felt so good about life.
A few days or so after my last day of work in CA I got a call from (insert specific hospital name here) asking if I was still interested in the job I applied for about 3 or 4 weeks prior. The next day I was driving back to Utah for an interview which went a million times better than the last one I experienced and I went home feeling really positive. A week and a half or so later I arrived in Utah for good, had a couple weeks to settle in, my Utah nursing license arrived safely in the mail well before my first day of work, and then started my new job that I had forgotten I had even applied for until they called me that turned out to be (insert specific number of miles here) away from the place I found and decided to live in. This hasn’t been the typical pattern in my life. I’ve grown to expect a bit more of a struggle and a lot of hard work and persistence before things usually work out like that for me. This experience was a very pleasant surprise.
I’m extremely grateful for the things in my life that have brought me to this point. Even the times that weren’t so great, and there have been a few. Many times the things I thought were the end of my world lent itself to even better things that I couldn’t have acquired without the previous trial and gave me a story to tell and something to remember how bad things can really be when I might get frustrated with how things are currently. I find that the things I’m least thankful for (like speaking in sacrament meeting) allow me to have a greater appreciation for the things I might otherwise take for granted (like sitting quietly in a pew listening to someone ELSE speak in sacrament meeting- I’m really jealous of all of you right now).
In a general relief society meeting in 2007, Bonnie Parkin described gratitude as: “… a Spirit-filled principle. It opens our minds to a universe permeated with the richness of a living God. Through it, we become spiritually aware of the wonder of the smallest things, which gladden our hearts with their messages of God’s love. This grateful awareness heightens our sensitivity to divine direction. When we communicate gratitude, we can be filled with the Spirit and connected to those around us and the Lord. Gratitude inspires happiness and carries divine influence.”
Happiness is my favorite emotion. If gratitude can help keep me there, I’m in.
Doctrine and Covenants section 98 verse one says, “Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks.”
And if just being thankful for what we have isn’t enough incentive for having an attitude of gratitude, Doctrine and Covenants section 78 v 19 promises, “And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more.”
Most if not all of us here have been blessed with abundance. We are blessed with friendship, basic physical needs like food, clothes and a place to sleep, colors to see, a place to come to worship and partake of the sacrament, a way to repent and be happy, music, temples with all the blessings they contain, and many other countless blessings. Can you imagine an hundred fold more? Good thing our bodies will be perfected in the resurrection because they’re going to burst with gratitude if we don’t find a way to let it out.
So how do we do it? By what way can we show appreciation for the abundance we have been given? We can express our gratitude vocally, by saying thank you through prayer. Elder David A. Bednar has said, “The most meaningful and spiritual prayers I have experienced contained many expressions of thanks and few, if any, requests.
We can pay a full tithing. We can use the gifts we’ve been given: such as the atonement to repent, the sacrament to re-new our covenants, participate in temple work, use our talents in helping to build the kingdom, and rely on the holy ghost to help us make good choices in our lives, and keep the commandments.
And finally, to answer the third question about how I like the ward so far, I have been nothing but impressed with every person that I have met. I’ve been especially impressed with fast Sundays in hearing all of your testimonies, but be quite honest, I was a little disappointed because I’m an evil person and I find disastrous testimony meetings to be rather entertaining. But everybody was perfectly appropriate, uplifting and inspiring. I can tell you’re a good bunch, and I’m grateful to be here with you. I am grateful to be a part of this church, for prophets and for the scriptures. I’m grateful for my Heavenly Father and his plan, I’m grateful for my savior Jesus Christ and for his love and sacrifice so that we would not be lost. I’m somewhat grateful for trials but more so for the immense joy I feel in the blessings that follow but couldn’t experience without. I’m grateful for the Holy Ghost and for the guidance I receive, especially since it brought me here. And now, I am grateful that this talk is over.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Judgy McJudgers


I’ve seen this blog post shared a few times by fellow fb’ers: http://themattwalshblog.com/2013/10/09/youre-a-stay-at-home-mom-what-do-you-do-all-day/
The author writes about his experiences with people who seemed judgmental of stay at home moms and his response and high opinion of motherhood.

Some are in agreement and appreciative of the article and what he has to say about stay at home moms. Others are not and take offense because they don’t fit the description he outlined as admirable. I was surprised at the amount of comments, opinions, offences and defenses it aroused within my own facebook circle. I’ve always been aware of the debate and judgments between working and stay at home moms, but I had no idea that so many of my friends personally felt bad, less than or that they were being demeaned or belittled for whichever choice they had made because of other people's opinions.

Holy cow. According to the crappy generalized views of motherhood we're exposed to, a woman who chooses to be a mother can’t win in the world. You're a mother who wants to work? You suck. You're a stay at home mom? You suck. Both views require a defense, which means being a mother requires a defense. It's ridiculous. We need to just do what we want and stop being offended over other people’s opinions when what we do doesn't match what they would do.  They don’t matter. The world needs mothers (working or stay at home) and it's just preposterous that the role of mother requires a defense to the world no matter how she chooses to fulfill it.

I feel this is applicable not only in this case, but in life in general.  Make a choice, own it, feel good in your decision. Who cares about that other person who looks down their nose because I decided this was the best for me and my life at this time? Nobody deserves to have someone else make them feel guilty for doing what’s best, and the only person who can know what’s best for you is you and God. If you’re good on both accounts, nobody else matters…unless you’re married it might be nice to include your spouse in major decisions. They DO matter. I really think if everybody stopped caring about Judgy McJudger's opinions on motherhood, mothers would feel a lot more satisfied with their role however they choose to fill it.

Any mother who loves her children and is actively working towards giving those children the best life as she knows how is awesome. You know what else I think? Judgmental people suck. And there again, that’s just one opinion of one person and if you’re a judgmental person that I’m sitting here in front of my computer screen anonymously judging and you feel that’s the best life decision for you, then who am I to pay heed to?

I wish people could be comfortable in their own life decisions without worrying about what their neighbors think. It’s none of their business and if you feel it’s best for you, kudos! Do it! Do it well. Those Judgy McJugders are jerks and you don’t need them. Be as good as you can be (which is most likely pretty remarkable) and stop fretting over what other people are thinking because it really doesn’t matter. If you don’t think it’s what is best for you and yours, find ways to change it and make it better for you but don’t let what other people think influence the way you feel about your choice or cause you to get up in arms over their rudeness/ naiveté/ condescension/ belittlement/ judgments etc. More than likely they’re feeling guilty over their own life choices and trying to overcome that feeling by proving you (or others who have made choices opposite theirs) to be in the wrong rather than they, which is dumb because everyone has a different “best” choice. Own your choice, and feel good in it if it truly is the best for you. When I see mothers (or anybody for that matter) get defensive in their choices, I sense that they’re unhappy or unsure of the choice they’ve made and they’re trying to prove why their choice is valid to themselves as much as anyone else in order to not feel guilty. If mothers have made a choice they feel is the best possible way to go, they have no reason to feel guilty and I hate that the world has imposed that on them. Whatever choice a mother makes, ANY mother, she will be unjustly judged by someone (perhaps lots of someones) who doesn’t matter. If we understand this, then I think we have a better chance accepting that there is no way EVERYBODY will think we’re perfect even if we are, so we can be happy knowing we’re doing our best. Be good with yourself, be good with your family and be good with God. Try not to let opinions of people who don’t matter ruffle your feathers, even though they are idiots. I honestly feel that the people who are the most judgmental are those who are unsatisfied with their own choices trying to soothe themselves into feeling better. You should pity them because look at you! Making all sorts of best decisions for yourself and family that you feel good about. Everyone else is just totes jelly and can’t deal.

Stay at home. Fine. Go to work. Fine. Why can’t we all just be fine? Judgy McJudgers- go home (maybe after work?)! There are kids that need lovin’ and better examples of how to treat our brothers and sisters in the world and no good reason to make others feel guilty for not being you.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Gluten Free Double Mint Brownies

Here’s another gluten free version of a dessert that’s a favorite in my family. Usually my mom uses a brownie mix and tops it with the mint cream and chocolate topping recipes below. Instead of the boxed brownies, I use a delicious gluten free brownie recipe her friend gave her called “Gooey Chocolate Fudge Brownies”. If you want the easy factor of a boxed brownie mix, there are gluten free brownie mixes available…but they won’t taste as good as this recipe and it’s really not hard. The response I got with this recipe: “These are gluten free?” Yes. Too bad they’re not calorie free because I just ate 3 days worth in one sitting. Best to make these for a party or take them to work or somewhere else to share...random person next to you? Here, have a gluten free double mint brownie...or 10. Bam. Insta-BFF. And don’t think you can just make them for yourself and reasonably only eat one...or two… or four and save the rest for future days (maybe freezing them perhaps? I don’t even know if they freeze well because they’ve never made it to my freezer), because once you taste them you won’t be able to stop until they’re gone and unless you forget they’re in the freezer (which I don’t think is possible), they have no hope of survival. Or maybe that’s just me. I’m still learning self-control and it’s a hard lesson to learn. For me this definitely isn’t a lonely, I think I’ll bake something for myself tonight recipe. Sharing is the way to go, but if you’re looking for a few extra pounds there’s no happier way to do it and I wish you the best.

 

Gluten Free Double Mint Brownies

Bake brownies (recipe below). Cool completely in pan. Spread mint cream layer on brownies (recipe below). Chill. Pour chocolate topping (recipe below) evenly and spread over dessert. Chill.


Gooey Chocolate Fudge Brownies

¾ cup butter

2 ¼ cups sugar

5 eggs

½ tablespoon vanilla

¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose gluten free flour blend

¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder

¾ teaspoon salt

½ cup semisweet chocolate chips (or more)

(I also throw in a couple handfuls of walnuts)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Press parchment paper into a 9x13 cake pan and spray with pam (I just used the parchment paper sans Pam and the brownies came out fine).

Melt butter and sugar on very low heat (I also do this in the microwave- last time I made this recipe I did it on the stove in a pan that was too small and melted the sugar faster than the butter and got crunchy sugar crystals in my brownies and ended up having to pull the butter out to melt in the microwave anyway). Let mixture slightly cool and place in a large bowl. Add eggs gradually. Mix well. Add vanilla.

Stir dry ingredients together and add to egg mixture. Stir gently.  Add chocolate chips (and nuts if you want them). Pour into pan and bake for 35 minutes. (Mine were done after 28 minutes- brownies firm and toothpick came out clean).

Notes: I added all the eggs at once, and my stir gently was the lowest setting on my hand mixer. Still turned out great.

 
Mint cream layer

2 cups powdered sugar (I added a touch more)

½ cup butter softened (NOT melted)

½ teaspoon mint extract (I added just a smidge more- probably less than 1/8th of a teaspoon more)

3 drops green food color (mine was a gel, use as much or as little or none as you like)


Beat until smooth. (Don’t be tempted to add milk or water, especially if the butter wasn’t soft enough to start with and it’s crumbly. Keep beating. It will become creamy and smooth.)

 

Chocolate Topping

6 tablespoons butter

1 cup mint chocolate chips, or semi sweet chocolate chips


In a small bowl melt the butter and chocolate chips until chips are melted and mixture is smooth when stirred.

Notes: I used semisweet chocolate chips with a tiny bit of mint extract (I didn’t measure it. It was probably around 1/8-1/4th of a teaspoon). I always prefer to use butter, but Imperial (stick, not tub) margarine is an acceptable substitute if you need/prefer in both the mint cream layer and the chocolate topping. It will still taste and turn out amazing. Most every time my mom has made this in the past she used Imperial margarine in the mint cream and chocolate topping and it always turned out a winner. I usually use butter in most of my baking, but the last time I made this I ran out and used butter in the brownies and mint cream layer and Imperial margarine in the chocolate topping. Still too good to not eat.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Gluten free hello dolly's!

I’m not a recipe blog. I’m a blog about nothing blog, but as I discover new gluten free ideas or recipes that I love I’m probably going to share them here. I love Hello Dolly’s. I’ve been googling gluten free graham cracker recipes all week trying to figure out a gluten free version of this dessert (that is already mostly gluten free except for the grahams) since I promised somebody a few weeks ago I’d bring some to church tomorrow before I knew I was sensitive to gluten and there’s no way I want to be left out of eating one of my favorite treats. A lot of the graham cracker recipes I found take ingredients that could be hard to find or get in a couple days. I decided I would try this “graham cracker” crust recipe I found here:

 

It seemed the easiest and I knew I could find almond flour in the bulk section of Winco (I happened to see it there on my last visit). I just nixed the cinnamon. The rest of the recipe is the classic Hello Dolly recipe (aka magic cookie bar or something similar that is not as fun to say as “Hello Dolly!” except I use peanut butter chips instead of butterscotch as a flavor preference). Very simple and what I love is the gluten free version of this recipe is just as easy (if not easier because you don’t have to crush anything) as the original. I have only eaten one of the finished product so far, but I’d say they turned out amazingly well and taste just as yummy as you could wish them to. I guess the real test will come tomorrow when I have my friends try them. If this post is still up in July, you’ll know they made the cut.

Gluten Free Hello Dolly's 

1 ½ cups almond flour

4 tablespoons melted butter

2 tablespoons honey

½ teaspoon salt

1 bag (10 oz )Reeses peanut butter chips

1 bag (12 oz) Guittard semi sweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup coconut flakes

1 can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350. Mix almond flour, butter, honey and salt until combined. Press into bottom of greased 9x13 pan. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly (or completely). Evenly sprinkle peanut butter chips across crust. Continue with chocolate chips, walnuts and coconut. Pour the can of sweetened condensed milk evenly over the entire thing. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until the top begins to turn golden brown. Of course you can use whatever brand of chips you want. Reeses and Guittard happen to be the ones I use. And there’s no reason you can’t use whatever nut you prefer also.

Original gluten-full Hello Dolly’s recipe

1 cube butter

1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs

12 oz chocolate chips

12 oz butterscotch chips (I substitute peanut butter chips because they taste better)

1 cup coconut

1 can eagle brand milk

1 cup nuts

Melt butter in 9x13 inch pan. Sprinkle in graham crackers. Mix. (I usually would mix the graham crumbs and butter in a bag and then press into the pan. It was easier. I would also lightly grease the sides but not the bottom of the pan with crisco). Sprinkle butterscotch, chocolate chips, nuts and coconut. Pour milk on top. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or 325 for 30 minutes.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Perhaps my body hates gluten


“Will you pass me the…the…” I can’t remember what it’s called. I’m looking right at it. I’ve known its name since I was 3 or 4. I know what it is, I know what it tastes like, smells like, looks like, and I can think of all the words describing these things except its name. The family member sitting across from me is waiting expectantly for what I want but I’m drawing a blank. I can only point and describe it, so I do, “…the red stuff you squirt out of a bottle?” I finally finish.

“The ketchup?”

“Yes! Ketchup.”

This was the first time I can remember forgetting the name of something I shouldn’t forget the name of. I don’t remember how long ago this particular incident occurred, maybe 5 years ago. It was confusing to me and a really weird sensation. It’s not like you can’t remember where you put something, or the name of a person you once met and you’re trying to remember something you’ve only encountered once or twice. It’s having a normal conversation and then stopping midsentence because your brain goes blank and there is no word supplied to you for an everyday object that you should have no problem identifying. Things become “white fat in a can” (Crisco/shortening) or “things you unlock doors with” (keys). I’m really good at the game catch phrase. Since the ketchup it happens occasionally, and I had accepted it as something that my brain just does sometimes and I don’t even waste time trying to think of the word for whatever object I can’t remember at the moment anymore. I just go right into descriptions until I remember what it is called (usually by the time I’m done describing it the word comes back to me), or the other person figures out what I’m talking about. I usually attribute my poor word recall to being tired.

Tired. I’m tired an awful lot. I usually try not to complain about how tired I am because I figure I’ve always been tired, even when I have no reason to be, so this must be how most people feel (except the super lucky chipper ones who seem to have caffeine naturally running through their veins) and I’m being a wimp about it so there’s no reason not to do things I should (like go for a run, go grocery shopping, wake up). In high school I attributed my chronic tiredness to early morning seminary. In college, shoot, I was a nursing student. Of course I was tired. But even on summer vacation or a non stressful week with plenty of sleep I still find it hard to feel energetic. At best I’m not sleepy. Given a choice my body would always choose resting on the couch even though I love to move. It’s hard to find the motivation to do it, but my brain usually wins and yells at my body until I comply...but sometimes my body wins, and I stay on the couch. And I’m still tired. My fatigue is not debilitating, I did train for and complete a marathon last month, but it was really hard to make myself run most days. Once I started a run it wasn’t so bad, the hardest part was getting my shoes on and out the door and making myself do it. So many days I just wanted to take a nap instead.

Starting in highschool I developed “crunchy” knees. When I walk down stairs I sound like rice crispies. The grating, or “crunchiness” is palpable if you place your hand on either of my knees and I bend my leg in and out. Along the same lines my joints ache. Hips and knees. Not all the time, but especially after long periods of standing, stressful days, or sometimes for no reason at all. In high school it started with my elbows, but my elbows don’t bother me anymore.

Ever since elementary school I’ve had digestive issues. I remember car rides where I wanted to die because there wasn’t a bathroom available in the next 20 seconds…let alone 20 minutes. I used to get diarrhea frequently so painful I’d nearly cry and I’d have to bury my face in a towel as I sat on the pot. There was never an identifiable food pattern relating to my digestive woes. The pain has eased over the years, the diarrhea is not nearly as debilitating as it once was as a pre teen and teen. I’ve adapted to having certain issues as well as “singing” intestines. After nearly every meal, no matter what I seemed to eat I would get gas that would make my intestines sing-sometimes it sounds similar to a stomach growling. I’ve had people comment on my being hungry, when really it was just gas pushing against and travelling along my insides. It’s embarrassing. If I was going somewhere that was going to be quiet (like church or a class) I had two options: stomach growl because I’m hungry, or intestines singing because I’m not. Peptobismol tablets and simethicone are staples in my medicine cupboard. Sometimes I would take pepto before a car ride or a shift at work if I felt any inkling of discomfort or even if I didn’t, “just in case” because I never knew when I’d be hit with something. My biggest fear training for my marathon was urgently needing a bathroom. Have you seen those pictures of marathon runners in dinky shorts with code brown running down their legs? Oh man. I was so afraid that was going to be me…don’t worry. It wasn’t. My pre run meals I found I did best with turned out to be gluten and lactose free: chex, bananas and almond milk.

About seven years ago my family and I were at Disneyland. I put SPF 50 sunblock on my face. That night when I got home I noticed a light red rash on both cheeks. I thought it was because I had sensitive skin and the lotion irritated it along with being in the sun. I still have the same rash today. I avoided facial lotions with SPF in them, and only used sunblock when I absolutely knew I’d get burned otherwise. Sometimes the rash fades a bit and other times it flares, but it has never gone away 100%. Pretty sure now it wasn’t the lotion.

Starting about 10 years ago I’ve had several cavities (like almost every single tooth that could possibly have a filling does) despite good dental hygiene.

I am sensitive to lactose, but even when I completely eliminate it from my diet (like I did when I was training for my marathon for 5 months) I still had all of the above symptoms.

A week or so ago I saw a friend post something about going gluten free to see if it would help his eczema. My knowledge of gluten sensitivity and celiacs is/was limited, and never something I even thought would apply to me. I always felt so sad for people who couldn’t eat wheat. I did some research (since I also have a rash that just won’t go away-luckily it doesn’t itch and isn’t too noticeable with some make up- I can’t see it in photos) and wouldn’t you know all of the symptoms that I experience that I have just learned to accept as my normal may be attributed to my body hating gluten. I gave myself a half a week to mentally prepare myself for a drastic diet change and get my final gluten fixes (I eat a lot of whole wheat foods and foods containing gluten) and every time I ate something with gluten in it once I came to my hypothesis I felt like I was knowingly hurting myself. It was a weird feeling and I was kind of glad when Monday came. I’m trying not to feel sorry for myself or sad about it (I probably place too much joy in food- and a lot of my favorites are full of gluten) because if it is gluten sensitivity causing my abnormal norms it’s going to have to be a lifetime change. There are still many options and things that I can still eat. And if it really is a gluten sensitivity, I should be feeling better without it and perhaps I will learn to not want it if I know it makes me sick and tired.

Since Monday I started a 2-3 week gluten free trial and have nixed wheat, barley and rye from my diet. I’ve never read so many food labels in my life. In my online reading the recommendation is to consult your doctor before going gluten free and if you have enough symptoms being tested for celiacs since blood tests are less accurate if you don’t have as much gluten in your system, but I’m not consulting a doctor. I probably should, but I’m not. If my symptoms improve after 2-3 weeks this will be a change I’ll have to learn to love and I don’t need a doctor to tell me how I feel. If I don’t see any significant changes I’ll add gluten back and see what happens. So far the biggest change I’ve seen right away is no more singing intestines. It’s been a trip eating dinner and expecting the opera to start and feel no pressure or hear any horrifying whale sounds coming from deep inside. I definitely appreciate that change. I’ve learned MY normal is NOT normal, and maybe there’s a reason for it other than “that’s just the way I’ve always been”. I’m hoping gluten free can bring me there and that the rest of my symptoms also improve. If anybody has any favorite gluten free recipes, you’re welcome to send them to me, or leave them in a comment.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mission impossible


Earlier this month I completed a marathon. I never thought I’d be able to run a marathon, but if you asked me which was more likely: completing a marathon or doing one pull up, I’d tell you the marathon would be easier to accomplish although both would be un-realistic goals for me.

My newest challenge for myself: one pull-up. I’ve attempted to do this before sometime last year. Eventually I lost interest, stopped practicing and never got to the full pull up because I let myself think it just wasn’t possible. It took too long and I got tired of trying. Occasionally I hang on my pull up bar and still wish I could do one.

I asked my younger brother if I trained to do a pull up like I trained for the marathon how long he thought it would take me before I could do one. He told me one month. I’m going to double that time because my upper body strength is non-existent, I’m not sure if I have it in me to train for anything again like I trained for the marathon, and I think 60 days is still pushing it even if I trained consistently. My goal is to give myself 1 pull up for my birthday this year. I know that “nothing is impossible” but if there is, this is one thing that would be for me. My mom tells me that pull ups are not in my genetics because even as a kid in school she couldn’t do a pull up. I don’t recall ever being able to do a pull up as a kid either. I have done chin ups (over 20 years ago); Never a pull up.

I wish I could say with confidence that “I can do this.” I can’t even pretend that I believe it, but I hope that I can. I discovered I can accomplish more than I thought of myself with the marathon, so I’m still going to try.  One pull-up by July 29. I hope I can do it.

 
 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

26.2 miles


It’s over! It was kind of surreal starting out the run in the first few miles and thinking that the last 5 months and 2 weeks had been for that exact moment and it was happening. The run wasn’t any worse than any of my other long runs. Better even, just because I knew it was the last time I had to do it. I kept thinking “the great thing about today is I never have to do it again!” I just had to finish.

The race started at 0700, but the runners had to be there by 0430. It was freezing cold and dark waiting for the race to start. When we first started running, the sun was up, but still cold. I was afraid all my energy would have been depleted through all my shivering before we even started. I looked at my hands as we started and my nails were blue…and I wasn’t wearing polish. I tried to adjust my earphones and couldn’t tell if I was touching them in my ear or not because my fingers were numb. It warmed up fairly quickly and by the end was even a bit too warm and very sunny.

I finished at 05:40:30. 13 minutes/mile average pace overall. Pretty slow. I kept a slow 5mph jog for the first half for 12 minute miles, and then after mile 11 or 12 I got so dang tired. After the half mark I had to start alternating walking with jogging and slowed down to a 14 minute/mile average pace. 2 of my brothers also ran, and I finished over an hour behind them. Either way, slow or not I finished!

 

I accomplished all of my goals: 1. Finish. 2. Not be the last person 3. Finish before traffic control and aid stations broke down. 4. Be able to smile at the end. I read a few weeks before the race that the course would close after 6 hours- participants still going were welcome to finish the course but traffic help would be gone. I did NOT want to be finishing after everybody left and I was nervous I would. BUT, I finished, I finished before the course closed, and I was not the last person! I think there were about 220 participants in the full marathon, and there were about 20 that came in after I did. In my gender age group I came in 9th out of 11, so even there I wasn’t last. The race went pretty well and I felt so good (emotionally anyway) when it was done! Physically I was dehydrated, too nauseated to eat anything right away and exhausted. I remember thinking I didn't get any new blisters because I couldn't feel any hot spots and startled myself when I took my socks off in our hotel room and saw a monster of a blister on the side of the ball of my right foot. It was very tender and sore after that. I guess my endorphins were doing their job during the run.
Once we got back to the room I had a half a bagel, and we went out to eat at Tucanos. So good. I felt much better after I ate. I really wanted an ice cream sundae (for like the last however many months) so my mom bought ice cream and toppings and I got my ice cream sundae that night. I have had ice cream every single day since the marathon.

I was surprised how sore I was on Sunday. I’m used to being the most sore and stiff the day of my long run, and then by the next day being able to walk normally, not be in any pain but just have tired muscles. I could hardly move Sunday morning. Walking was painful and stairs were worse. Monday I was still stiff and sore but able to get up and down a bit easier and Tuesday I started to feel like how I expected to feel on Sunday. I went for a little mile and a half jog with my sister yesterday (Tuesday). We jogged the first half and walked the last half. It felt good to move, but my knees are still feeling it going downhill.

I went to my parent’s house for 2 nights once we got back from Utah where I finally got my hair cut! I didn’t have 10 inches for locks of love, but I had about 9 inches. I couldn’t wait another 2 months to cut my hair, and I really wanted my hair cut since my marathon was done, so I found Pantene Beautiful Lengths that partner with the American Cancer Society to create free wigs for women who lose their hair due to chemo- they only need 8 inches. http://www.pantene.com/en-US/PanteneBeautifulLengths/Pages/default.aspx I had my favorite hair stylist (Susan Davis in Antioch- always gives me the cutest cuts) cut my hair and I mailed my 9 inches to Pantene Beautiful Lengths when we were done.

 
Starting with day one of training in the last week of November through May 4th (including the marathon) I ran a total of about 603 miles.
November= 16.55 miles
December= 88 miles
January= 104.72 miles
February= 116.39 miles
March= 121.55 miles
April= 129.48 miles
May= an unknown distance walked/jogged for about 15 minutes + 26.2 miles

I ran 4 days a week, and missed only 1 running day on a day I had to work and wasn't feeling very well. If you're thinking you would like to run a marathon, make sure you really want to. I feel like I'm proof any healthy person with functioning legs can complete a marathon, but it takes a big commitment and a significant amount of time out of your life to train for it. You either have to really love running, or have a lot of self discipline.

Tonight I’m finally home to my own bed after about a week of being gone either in Utah or my parent’s house. I’ll sleep so good.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Top 10


I still have a week and a half, but it’s hard not to think about how it’s going to be once I’m done. I’m excited to be done!
 
Top 10 things I’m excited for in life post marathon:

10. Not worrying about completing a marathon and HAVING to run or else feeling like I’ll go to runner’s hell or the world will end or I won’t make it to the finish line if I miss a training day (I only skipped one running day in the last 4 months because I wasn’t feeling well- and more often than not I didn’t feel like running).

9. An at home pedicure to get rid of my calluses I’ve been too afraid to remove lest I get blisters where the calluses have formed.

8. Having my middle toenail heal on my right foot. Not sure if it will ever happen, but I’m going to do my best to get it back to normal once I’m done with long distance running. I finally lost the nail only to find another one underneath it and it’s thick, purple and ugly.

7. Exercise other than running.

6. Not having to go running for over an hour before starting my 12 hour shift at the hospital.

5. Not having to spend half my Monday running and the other half recovering from running. Also, not having to schedule my life around my running schedule. I’d like to fit exercise into my life, not my life into my exercise routine.

4. Eating dairy without regard to the day of the week or my training schedule.

3. Donating blood (really antsy to donate blood again).

2. Cutting my hair (super ready for a hair cut).

1. Being able to say I completed a marathon. Not that it’s something I want to brag about, but I look forward to being able to say it to myself. It’s been a challenge and a lot of time and effort went into this endeavor, and I know I complain a lot and think I’m a slow and not a great runner and I say I’m never doing more than 10K ever again after this, but when it’s all done, I can say I have completed a marathon and I will have proved to myself I did something I never thought I could. I am a crazy person.

Perhaps after my big day I’ll post a more positive top 10 things I’ve enjoyed in my marathon training…it might have to be a list of 5 though…or 3. J

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Half mast


My mom called me tonight to ask if what happened in Boston yesterday made me more nervous for my upcoming marathon. I feel so sad about the bombing yesterday, especially when I think that the majority of those injured and killed were supportive friends and family there cheering on people they care about on a day that was supposed to be so positive and exciting. It makes me sick.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Countdown


My "inspirational" quote that has been on my mirror for the last 4 and a half months or so. I'm not sure if it's so much inspirational as it is a slap in the face. This was taken on Thursday before a 5.65 mile run I had to get in before going to work that night. Don't I look excited? May 4th is coming! 3 more weeks!

Monday, April 1, 2013

24 miles

More like 23.88. My original route was 24.13, but I got to one point and a road that should have been there wasn't- or maybe it was and couldn't find it, so I had to back track and lost a quarter of a mile. Oh well. This will be the longest distance before the actual marathon. No more new longest distances. Good thing. Running is so hard!

I took 2 liters of water on my back. Running with water is not my favorite. My shoulders are still tired...so are my feet and legs. I was happy to find a water fountain right on my route so I could save some of the water I brought. I drank from the fountain until I wasn't thirsty, and I still drank all the water I brought before I finished. I ate 5 energy gels. My time was not great. It took 5 and a half hours and my last 2 hours or so I had to walk more than I wish I did. I was ravenous when I finished. I had a bowl of cereal with almond milk and a piece of toast around 0800, I finished my run around 1630 and didn't eat until around 1700. My stomach was so angry and growling but I couldn't eat as much as I wanted to and felt sick for a while. I had to set my dinner aside and eat the rest of it later. I'm feeling better now 5 hours post run- my stomach isn't angrily growling and the feeling of grossness bordering on nausea is gone. The munchies are setting in.

I've decided that since I've already grown my hair out for about 13 months now, that to make it worth while I should donate it. The cut portion needs to be at least 10 inches in order to donate. If I go super super short, I've got about 8 inches I could get rid of now. My marathon is in one month. My hair has been growing about just over half an inch a month. That means I've got at least 4 more months of growing it out. I was really really looking forward to chopping my hair off as soon as my marathon was done...but if a few more months means it could be useful for somebody it almost seems like a waste of time to grow it out for 14 months to cut it off for nothing. Does that even make sense? I think I've decided to keep growing it for now so it can be for something.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sidewalks, bike lanes and flatness

This week I've been in West Sacramento. Yesterday I only had to go 12 miles and today 3. No hills, sidewalks, AND ginormous bike lanes!! And if there aren't either of those, the shoulders are decently wide...at least where I was running. Holy cow, running in West Sac is so...safe...and nice! On one particular street I ran, if it wasn't for the picture of the bicycle on the asphalt I would have thought it was another car lane. I could have lied down across it and still been clear of car traffic, it was at least 5 and half to 6 feet wide not including the sidewalk. The bike lane itself was the size of a two way street where I'm used to running. So spacious.

Yesterday I tried taking my water bottle belt instead of my back pack. I never learn that that thing is awful. I should have just taken my back pack. I put tape around the bottle to make it thicker so it would stay in its holster a bit better and did a few "practice" jaunts with it to make sure the bottle wouldn't fly out, and it seemed to stay put, but sure enough once I started running for real, it popped right out of the holster. So annoying. I decided to just carry it in my hands until I drank half of it (once it's half empty it stays put just fine) so I ran with a full water bottle being passed between my hands for about 4 miles. After a while my arms started to get tired of holding it and I figured I really only needed about half that water anyway if I wasn't going to drink much my first hour, so I tried to dump 1/3 to 1/2 out only I accidentally dumped more like 3/4ths of it. Ah geeze. I knew I was in for a rough rest of my run. At least my arms got a break. I finished the first half (10K) in about an hour and 8 minutes which averaged out to just over 11 and a quarter minute miles. At that point I ate my energy gel and drank probably half of the precious water I had left. By the time I was finishing I was looking for sprinklers left on or an abandoned hose in someone's yard or something. It was awful. I finally did find sprinklers on in a yard, but I was so close to finishing it wasn't worth it. I finished the whole thing in my goal time of 12 minute miles: 2 hours 24 minutes 3 seconds. I went 12.07 miles so really I made it in just under 12 minute miles. I'm happy with this, but I feel like I might have done better if I hadn't dumped most of my water like an idiot.

12 miles is an awkward distance for me because I usually let myself have an energy gel about every 50-60 minutes, so by the time I'm hitting mile 9 or 10 I feel like I need something, but I'm too close to finishing to justify eating another one. If I run 10 miles I eat one energy gel half way. If I run 12 miles I eat one energy gel half way...and it feels really hard at the end and I'm a little more worn out at mile 6 than I am on my longer runs at mile 6.

Today was my 3 mile (5K) run. I went 3.06 miles in 32 minutes and 17 seconds which is about just over 10 and a half minute miles. I was tired and it felt hard, but it was nice to not have any hills to fight with. I'll be back in West Sac next week and plan to go 24 miles on Monday and after that I won't go any more new longest distances. May is getting closer!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

22 miles

Monday I went just under 22 miles (21.85). I was in Rio Linda, so at least I didn’t have any hills to contend with, but I was still exhausted. Usually I hit hills and have to walk up some of them and get relief in my calves as I go down them, but in Rio Linda there were not any significant hills so I never had to walk which made my legs work in a different way for longer than they were used to. I never got the strain in my calves the hills give me going up, but I never got the relief the down hills give me either. I felt ok for the first half of my run and only had to stop for traffic lights until my last hour and a half or so but my last hour was spent walking as much as I was jogging…if not more. I got so tired I just wanted to sit down and not move any more. I wanted to cry a couple times, and then I yelled at myself in my head to knock it off because I’m not a pansy. There was a free couch on one street that was so tempting, and it killed me to pass up that bench at the bus stop on Watt Ave. I imagined a delightful rest and conversation as the lady that was sitting there would tell me her life story whilst sharing a box of chocolates that would just magically appear. So hungry!

It took me 4 hours and 34 minutes for about a 12 and a half minute per mile average pace. I took 6 energy gels and ate 4 of them, took about a liter and a half of water in my hydration back pack and drank all of it and wished I had brought more. I rationed the last of it so I only had about a half a mile to a mile left when I finished it, but it would have been nice to have had an extra 8 oz or so- I just wish water didn’t weigh so much. It will be nice on race day to have aid stations with water and not have to wear that back pack.

Usually after a good work out sore muscles show up the next day, but I was feeling it even before my run was done. My soreness and stiffness was the worst that night. I couldn’t touch my toes with straight legs, I had to get up and down really slowly and I was walking funny. No significant blisters, just really really tired feet. Yesterday I was still a little sore, but I could walk normally. I didn’t do my recovery run yesterday. Today my muscles were fine. Wednesdays are usually a rest day, but since I didn’t do my 3 miles yesterday I did them today instead and got a personal best time on my 3.4 mile hilly route with 11 minute 18 second miles. I thought for sure once I hit that first big hill my legs would die out after my big run on Monday, but they didn’t.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

An arm and a leg

The weather has been so nice lately! It's gotten to the point where I have to put sunblock on before I go out for my runs. I've developed some fun(ky) tan lines right where my running socks cut off on my ankles. Mostly I'm impressed that the skin on my legs have learned how to hold some color. After my last long run I took off my socks and saw a bunch of dirt on my legs especially around my ankles and tried to scrub it off in the shower only it wouldn't all come off. My arms are trying their best to have a farmers tan, but the line is less definite than the sock line. It's a little easier to see in person, but here are a couple pictures.Check it out! Hahaha.



 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunday night lament


I’m trying to decide if not keeping junky food in my place is the result of love or hate for myself. I think it’s love…but sometimes I really hate it. Like right now. All I want is a chocolate brownie, or a chocolate anything, but alas, I have chocolate nothing.  When I passed up that brownie mix on my last grocery trip I knew I’d feel like this at some point, and yet I still didn’t buy it. I’m so cruel. I’m not even on a diet, or being super careful in watching what I eat (dinner was pancakes and an egg), but if I had it or if it was available, I’d eat it and not feel all that guilty about it either since I know I’ve got a 12 mile run tomorrow. I guess that’s why when I go shopping I don’t buy empty calorie treats, at least not on a regular basis. And again…because I love myself? Yes. Because I love myself. Tough stinkin love. I'm pretty sure I'd be the size of a house if I ate everything I ever wanted to. I would have whipped that brownie mix up in a heartbeat tonight and probably eaten a quarter of it, (and then continue to eat it over the next couple days all by myself), but instead I ate raw veggies, some grapes and a little packet of fruit snacks I took from my   parent’s house last week and a cup of Postum for my dessert/snack tonight. Who needs brownies when you’ve got carrots, cauliflower and broccoli? Psh, not me. I LOVE myself. On a more serious note though, I’m so happy Postum has made its way back into my life. Postum is good. But you know what’s better? Postum with a brownie…or 5.  

Thursday, March 7, 2013

20 miles


I feel like I should be in better shape at this point. Oh well. I’ve got just less than 2 more months to get there. I went 20 miles on Monday, but it was really more of a glorified 20 mile walk than a 20 mile run. The total elevation gain was supposed to be only about half of what it was on my 18 mile run so I thought it would be a great run, but it was not. It took me (including traffic lights) a little over 4 and a half hours. I can’t know the exact time because my ipod died towards the end. I don’t know if it’s because I only ate half a banana and left 20 minutes later, if it was because I took more water than I have before and that weighed me down, if it was because it was too soon after my 12 mile run I did on Thursday, or if it was because I’m just a pansy of a runner, but the whole thing was hard and after my first 5 miles I remember walking more than I remember jogging. Usually I start out a run feeling super tired and not wanting to run, but I get out of my funk after a few minutes and think it’s not so bad, and then don’t feel really awful for at least the first little while, but Monday I never got out of the funk as I expected to. I don’t know what to blame, but it was probably a combo of all the reasons listed above. One of my biggest fears is that I’m turning mole hills into mountains and that the hills I think are “so hard” are really only so-so that any runner could easily traverse and I’m still going to die on a flat or minimally hilly route.

If anybody is familiar with Antioch, my run on Monday went from the Eagleridge neighborhood out Deer Valley road all the way until it dead ends at Marsh Creek Rd, then I turned back around. I was ready to be done when I hit Balfour…only 5 miles or so into my run...and ready to die a couple miles after that. I was so tired I had to walk not only inclines, but some flat and even some decending parts of the run. I got nauseated at one point and just plain tired of being upright. I tried to figure out if it was my legs that were tired or my lungs and I couldn’t figure it out except I was just TIRED. I should have had a better breakfast, but I woke up too late and it was already late in the morning and I didn’t have time to wait the 2 hours eating a decent breakfast before a run like that would have taken. Guess I learned my lesson. I finished never wanting to run again. The best part of the run (aside from finishing) was on the run back, passing a big group of cows near Kaiser hospital that all started running when they saw me coming. It made me feel powerful and was kind of exciting to have them all running next to me…even if there was a barbed wire fence between us.

Tuesday I did my 3 mile easy run on a mostly flat route and was surprised I completed it with a 10:40 min/mile average considering how tired and sore I was from the 20 miles the day before. That’s faster than I’ve ever completed 3 miles. I’m going to attribute it to no major hills.

Monday, February 18, 2013

18 miles


Every other week I surprise myself with each new distance I go. I’m learning that we’re stronger than we know…it just takes a little (or rather a lot) of effort. I’m feeling pretty good right about now. Come May 4th I’m going to be so ready. Today was 18 miles. I no longer feel bad that it takes me nearly 13 minutes a mile on my long runs. They’re HARD miles! Half of it is going up and I’m wearing a water back pack. I think I’m allowed to be impressed with myself. My pace today was just about the same as my pace 2 weeks ago on my 16 mile run, but it was 3 seconds a mile better and I went two more miles. Progress.

I kind of love it when I stop for traffic and realize I don’t need the breathing break I used to love traffic for. I no longer appreciate waiting for cars to pass. I never thought I’d be able to jog and comfortably breathe. It’s a feeling of accomplishment for me- only now I have to get my feet and legs to feel just as good as my lungs. My heart’s doing pretty ok too. My resting rate is in the mid 40’s. I never think to take it when I’m on a run or even right after. Right now, 2 hours later it’s 70.

Today I took 5 energy gels, ate 3 of them and brought 48 oz of water. I didn’t drink it all. I was exhausted by the end and had to lean on the counter while I was making my food, but I still don’t feel as awful or have such a hard time finishing my run as I did with my first 10 mile run. My feet hurt and are tired, but I don’t have any new blisters.

As a side note, the raspberry flavored power bar brand energy gel is a lot better than the vanilla flavor, and also doesn’t have caffeine. I bought a case (carton? Pack?) of 24 online at amazon.com because it was cheaper than buying individual packets at sporting-goods stores.  I only use them on Mondays for my long runs when I’m going to be out for more than a couple hours. My shorter runs vary between 3.4-5.6 miles (and next week will go up to 6 miles), and the only thing I bring on those runs is my house key tied to my shoe.

On my 5.65 mile run on Saturday I was able to complete the whole thing, ginormo hills and all with no walking. It was a good week for breakthroughs. I also feel like I should give credit where credit is due: before my feet hit the pavement before every single one of my runs and sometimes another one in the middle I say a prayer. I don't think I could make it without that help

I’m very satisfied with my progress. I’ve got about another two and half months until my marathon. Coming from a girl who couldn’t even make it once around a quarter mile track in high school without walking, I’m feeling pretty good about myself lately.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Don't feed the animals

As I went to plug in my vacuum cleaner I noticed a ball of gray hanging out at my back door. Hello kitty! She meowed and ran away upon seeing me, but returned after I stepped outside and started talking to her. She was hesitant, took her time in approaching me, let me pet her only once, but was very colloquial and responded to everything I said. I had sat down on the concrete just outside my glass sliding door, and she walked passed me, poked her head through the door I had left ajar, and proceeded to cautiously let herself in through the vertical door blinds. At that moment, I named her Roomie. I waited a moment, then got up to follow her in when she didn't come right back out; she startled and ran back outside when I pulled the blinds to the side to enter. I thought my visitor might be thirsty (I was afraid of making a friend for life, even though I kinda sorta wanted to, so I wasn't going to feed her yet- I even told her I only had water for her and that was it. She responded with, "whatever, like I care"). I went to get her a bowl of water from my kitchen. When I came back outside, the neighbor’s dog barked at her through the fence. Roomie was not smart enough to realize the dog was not super enough to get past the fence and took off leaving me alone with a bowl of water. I should have named her Forrest. At this point in my life, as much as I think I would like it, a pet would be more trouble than it’s worth. I won’t actively go out looking for an animal, but if one ever adopted me I don’t think I could say no. I’m probably lucky that dog barked when he did because even though I told her otherwise, a can of tuna was surely next.