Relationship Real Talk

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I mentioned recently that Garrett and I just celebrated our 7 year anniversary. When friends and co-workers asked how we were going to celebrate, I jokingly responded “By staying together, obviously.” Gifts are not either our “love languages” (HA!) so it was no surprise that we didn’t run out and shower each other with material things, but I have honestly begun to realize that this year, more than any year, staying together really was the big gift.

That sounds a bit dramatic when I reread it, and I don’t mean to mislead you like we are on the precipice of a dramatic breakup, because we are not. I REPEAT, NOT BREAKING UP AT ALL. But what I will say is that during the seven years of highs and lows this has been the hardest year of our relationship. Like in all capital letters. And it is for a multitude of reasons, none of which need to be detailed here mostly because they will be tedious and boring to just about everyone who isn’t me or Garrett, but it has been a working year. And I feel like people don’t really talk very often about those working years — but they are the most important aren’t they?

I am firmly in the camp that we’re doing okay if we are able to say “Yes, things are hard but we are working on them.” And I am even more firmly in the camp of — HEY LET’S TALK TO EACH OTHER ABOUT WHAT TO DO WHEN THINGS GET HARD. But then again, I like to talk about lots of things, so that’s probably not a surprise.

My mom always likes to remind me of that Buddhist Proverb that says “When the student is ready the teacher will appear.” And I feel like I have come across a number of things lately that have given me great food for thought and perspective about my life and my relationship. In an effort to do a little more talking about the hard stuff and not just post glossy photos about stuff when it is easy and awesome, I thought I’d share a few things I found useful lately:

  • I particularly enjoyed this post of Jennie’s about questions and answers. As someone who likes to always feel capable (that was my nice way of calling myself a Control Freak) I don’t do well with long periods of time full of lingering questions. But I am starting to realize that it can be helpful sometimes to just sit with them.
  • Also, when I read Liz’s AWESOME POST yesterday (seriously, go read it immediately, I can wait) about the singular task of juggling your careers and relationships I found myself letting out an enormous sigh of relief. I often let my work life get sorely out of balance (not only with my day job, but all of my other crazy endeavors.) And I found it really comforting and simple to read about this one approach. Of course at first I was like “WHO THE HELL DOES THIS GUY THINK HE IS?” But I honestly think that the whole post is just full of really smart thinking.
  • And lastly, I know I have already regaled you with fascinating quotes from Rules of Civility, but there is just one more that I have to get off of my chest because it really spoke to me. And to this time in my life, really:

If we only fell in love with people who were perfect for us…then there wouldn’t be so much fuss about love in the first place.

 

I MEAN HOW TRUE IS THAT? I just loved that quote.

The highs and the lows are worth it.
The question years and the answer years are worth it.
Figuring out how to prioritize your family life is worth it.
But man, they don’t call it commitment for nothing, right?

I would love to hear your relationship philosophies and strategies. How do you balance that in your own life, or even if just in abstract? I love to read gems of wisdom that I can tuck in my back pocket for when I am ready to listen and who knows, maybe it will be just what someone else needs to hear as well. :)

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A Tale of Two Thanksgivings

First…thank you guys for all of your kind words about Garrett’s grandma. I know he appreciated them, and taking the week off to just focus on hanging with Garrett and his mom, seeing family, chowing down on some delicious treats, and watching football were just what the doctor ordered.

We spent Thanksgiving Day with Garrett’s family, which was so fun. I made this Pomegranate Champagne Punch, which was tart and bubbly and super refreshing. And then because I was assigned the appetizers and can’t help myself, I also brought way too much food. I am recently obsessed with Whole Foods and their Bacon Jalapeno Cheese Ball, but Homesick Texan has a recipe that looks eerily similar. So delicious as a treat on carrots and celery.

Christmas Dinner

Speaking of carrots and celery, I also made a veggie tray with dip. You can’t have holiday noshing without veggies and dip. It makes you feel like you are being healthy, even when you know you are knee dip rich, delicious (sometimes not-so-healthy) foods. I also made these Baked Artichoke Squares and when they were hot, they were DELICIOUS. At room temperature, despite what the recipe said, they were sort of ho-hum. Ah, well. I’ll know for next time.

Also, I can’t do holidays without a cheese platter, but there is absolutely nothing Paleo about a cheese platter. IT IS MY KRYPTONITE.
Christmas Dinner

We were lucky that we also got to see my side of the family as well during the week and it got me thinking about Thanksgiving and food traditions. We have the exact same thing each year at Thanksgiving, and there is something so comforting about that, I think. We always have a big roasted turkey with gravy.

Garrett is a dark meat fan, but I always opt for the white meat. Mostly because I like to have it with a little homemade cranberry compote. I need to blog that recipe sometime, because it is FREAKING AMAZING and people always end up just eating it plain when I bring it somewhere. When was the last time you did that with jellied cranberry sauce from a can?

There is also, of course, stuffing. The first year we went paleo I completely avoided my Uncle Mark’s famous stuffing. But I missed it so much that I haven’t skipped it since. It is one of those once a year special occasion foods that I enjoy with abandon because Thanksgiving just isn’t the same without it. So despite it being a complete gluten bomb, I savor every sage-y, toasted, black olive filled bite.

Every dish isn’t a complete paleo deviation though — there are plenty of brussels sprouts with bacon and walnuts, which is a family favorite.

And aside from the marshmallows, the maple and sweet potato casserole with pineapple isn’t toooo bad (ok, maybe I’m rationalizing.)

There were mashed potatoes too, and then my mom and grandma always make a delicious green salad. This year was butter lettuce, almonds, orange slices, avocado, green onions and pomegranate arils.

Very refreshing to actually see some green on the plate with everything. Speaking of everything, here is the entire spread:
HOLY MOSES. Food coma in 3, 2, 1…

After all of the eating (MY GOD, WITH THE EATING) we took Buster out for a walk around the neighborhood. It’s just starting to look like fall around here, and people are putting up their holiday decorations so it was a fun diversion to get out and get some fresh air.
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This weekend our backyard decided to finally start looking like fall too. For a while were wondering if this tree would ever change colors, and then practically overnight it changed into this:
And just like that, it has turned into fall in our backyard.

Despite the sad news about Garrett’s grandma there were a lot of high points to the week. Of course as of today we are both back to work but that comes with the added benefit of being back to normal life. While we both wish vacation would last juuuuuuuuust a few more days, it will be nice to go back to cooking and eating good nourishing food, exercising hard and continuing to watch the season unfold. I am making it my mission from now until Christmas to just focus on the tiny little mundane details of our lives and to be conscious of all the joy that those little routines bring. I think it will help keep me sane, and I am determine make it through the seasonal craziness with my sanity in tact.

That’s one helluva lofty goal, frankly, but I’m starting today.

Oh, Hey…

I had a super positive post ready to go live this morning, but when I woke up my mood was sort of crummy and it felt a little dishonest.

I’ve been cooking, cleaning, traveling, entertaining or working for basically the last 2 weeks straight and I’M TIRED, you all. But I also still have a house guest, and meals still need to be cooked and coffee still needs to be made and waters refreshed.

Also, Garrett’s grandma died suddenly yesterday. While it is really nice that Garrett’s mom is here and we can all be together (especially since our plan was to be with her brothers too on Thanksgiving) it has also sort of changed the landscape and the vibe of this visit.

I had lunch with Sarah today and it totally cheered me up to have a chat with a good friend! But we both were on the same page about how life right now is being measured in increments of time and events. The week Garrett’s mom is visiting. Thanksgiving. Christmas. Overall I very much have the feeling of “Let’s hurry up and just get through this so we can relax,” and I hate that.

With Garrett’s grandma passing away it is just another reminder life is short and uncertain, and as often as possible it is good to really try be in the moment. So I’m going to try and do that for the rest of the week, and part of that means I probably won’t post anything new here. I hope you understand.

I need be there for Garrett and for his mom. I need to be the best hostess I can be and make sure everyone is having a nice time. I need make sure I do what I can to contribute to a Thanksgiving for a family who is going through an unexpected rough patch. And for me to do that I need to make sure I have a little time to myself too.

So I’m putting my oxygen mask on first, and taking the rest of the week off. I also may be stashing a bottle of wine and a glass underneath the sink in my master bathroom just in case of emergency, but we’ll just keep that between you and me. :)

I hope you all have lovely Thanksgiving’s with your friends and families, and I will hopefully be back early next week with that dose of positivity that felt very genuine when I wrote it.

XO

Bad Blogger, No Cookie


This weekend was what blogs were made for. If this was a fancy lifestyle blog, I would have lots of blurry edged photos, treated with a slightly vintage filter to express my joys appropriately. But since I really only had my iphone and I was more into eating, drinking and laughing than “setting up a good shot” — I only have what I have to show you this morning. Guess we’ll just have to make due. :)

Friday was my day off, and man I’m not sure I would have survived this weekend had I not had that day off. It wasn’t reeeeeally a day off because I’m about to have 10 days off and unfortunately my job is not the type where the work stops because I’m not showing up. So I got up early, did a little bit of 9-5 stuff, hit the gym (where I had to do Cindy, OHMAHGAWD OUCH. I hate that workout with a fiery passion) and then it was on to my real mission for the day — Crafting The Epic Grocery List:

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Not only is this week Thanksgiving, which means the grocery stores are a shit show daily, but Garrett’s mom was arriving Sunday night and it was Garrett’s request that “we cook her really good paleo food for every meal.” Ahem, I’m assuming by “we” he meant “me” so I set to crafting an awesome (yet not super demanding) meal plan. But it literally took hours to get all of that, plus the list together. I posted this on Instagram and lots of you got chuckles about the “cheap wine” but not cheap bourbon. What can I say, I have priorities? :) I also have a house full of expensive wine, but no good “second or third” bottles. You know? #hostessproblems

So after all of that nutty thinking and planning about food, I didn’t even have time to go to the grocery store because Friday night we were headed out to my mom’s (with Buster!) for a family dinner. My contribution was appetizers (I highly recommend the Bacon Jalapeno Cheese Ball from Whole Foods, if you are in a pinch,) a salad (I made Food & Wine’s Celery Salad with Walnuts, Dates and Pecorino and I AM NOT JOKING I had a dream about it last night, it was that good. And easy!) And then I brought dessert, which was a mish-mash of purchased things because I was out of creativity.
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My mom and grandma made an epic spread with pot roast and roasted root vegetables and the seven of us ate a little too much, talked a little too loud, and then we headed back home sans Buster. My mom and grandma were watching him for a couple nights because on Saturday night we were headed down to San Francisco.

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Awkward, flash-ridden, car self portrait! YAY!

Saturday, coincidentally enough was my and Garrett’s SEVEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY. In dog years, I think that means we are married. :) We celebrated that day by going grocery shopping (what? how do you guys celebrate?) And then made our way down to The City for the night. We weren’t going for a fancy white table-clothed dinner, instead we were meeting up with a big group of Garrett’s friends for a going away party. (Oooh, romantic! yes?) Actually it was no big deal to do that on our anniversary. I think after 7 years together romance is definitely not made only on special occasions, you know? (Which reminds me, you read this right? I kind of loved it.)

So we headed down to Cigar Bar & Grill to toast to Garrett’s good friend John (from high school! what???) and his fiance Amy who are moving to Amsterdam for a job.

AMSTERDAM, YOU GUYS! I MEAN COME ON!

It was fun to hear about such an adventure and it reinvigorated Garrett and I to discuss what our plans are for the future and where we want to live. We love Sacramento, but neither of us feel like this is our forever home, so it is fun to contemplate where else we could go. (ahem, ESTES PARK, COLORADO ahem) Do you guys do this too? Tell me what cities are on your list. I think it is SO FUN to think about moving to a new place. I mean, yes, it would be a ton of work to start a new life over again, but also it would be a new city to explore! HOORAY!

I tried to take some nice pictures of Garrett with all of his friends, but in the end most of them all looked like this:

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It’s fairly representative of the evening though, and that’s the point, really. Right? There is a lot of love in that group and it’s pretty fun to watch. We did manage to sneak away for a few minutes by ourselves.
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We didn’t spend that time whispering sweet nothings into each others’ ears though, instead we made it our mission to find the greasiest pizza in North Beach.

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Mission: Accomplished. (I’m pretty sure they cook their pizza crust in butter, which I’m telling you is NOT a bad thing.)

It paired well with the cocktails I’d been drinking all night, if you know what I’m saying. (Also, I think I may have accidentaly discovered my new favorite drink: aged dark rum, pomegranate juice, squeeze of lime, angostura bitters on the rocks.) Sounds sweet, is more tart. Very delicious. Now where were we…Ah yes, I believe I saying that My Best during the holidays looking a little different than the rest of the year? Ahem.

Sunday morning we headed back to Sacramento and to my mom’s to pick up Buster. You guys, I CAN NEVER HAVE KIDS. We missed our dog so. damn. much! Of course he was at my mom’s, which is not a bad life. When we showed up she had just deep conditioned his hair, brushed him and was You Tubing videos about proper Dog Massage Techniques, so it’s really not a bad gig for Buster. :)

When we got home, it was a whirlwind of cooking, cleaning and prepping the guest bedroom for Garrett’s mom’s arrival! She lives out in New Mexico and is 3.5 hours from the airport, so it was a long travel day for her. I cooked up some stew, picked up some chocolate truffles and had a nice bottle of wine at the ready (not one of the “cheap ones” I promise – HA!) when she arrived.

Last night we stayed up late chatting and today we have a full day of stuff on the agenda! Maybe later on this week I will do a better job with the soft-focus, vintage filtered photos, eh? :) I’ll be sure to put that on the list.

Fun Things to Read on Friday

Sound advice, I say.

Happy Friday!

I’m off of work today but my To Do List is about a mile long anyway. It must be the holidays! This weekend is going to be full of family dinners, anniversary celebrations, going away parties for friends, and picking up Garrett’s mom at the airport for her first visit out here in almost 4 years! Cooking and cleaning, COMMENCE!

Hope you all have a lovely weekend, and while you coast into it, here are some fun things from around the internet.

  • I need a serious haircut so I have been pinning like a mad woman to my All Things Hair pinboard. I wish I had the cajones to do this.

  • Liz Wolfe always shares insightful things, but I especially loved her post on 4 Habits of Most Triumphant Clients (and people.) Plus she gets a gold star for the Bill & Ted reference. I think habits #1 and #3 are especially good ones to focus on during the holidays. If you can do just those two things, the holidays will be a win.
  • Thanksgiving is going to involve A LOT of cooking. OHMAHGAWD. I think for my sanity the meals I cook the few days before will have to be super simple. For me, that usually means many MANY salads. Do you salt your lettuce? Well I do now after reading 10 Tricks to Make the Lazy Cook’s Food Taste Better.
  • We have wood cabinets and white countertops. Why doesn’t my kitchen look like any of these? Maybe in 2013 we will work on that.
  • Considering running a race next year? Check out Fit Sugar’s How to Train for a Race. Lots of awesome links to a multitude of training plans for 5ks, 10ks, Half Marathons, Martahons and Sprint Tris.

Any links to share? Awesome Thanksgiving recipes you can’t wait to make? Inspiration for getting through the holidays without pulling out your hair? I am all ears…

A Good Measuring Stick

A few months ago when I asked for book suggestions, a blog reader mentioned that she thought I would really enjoy Rules of Civility.  (You were right! Thank you!) Besides being an complex tale of New York society in the 1930s, it is just a very engaging and page turning read. What I’ve enjoyed the most though is the way the author reveals information in such a subtle way. It’s the kind of book where you keep picking up small breadcrumbs of information, but you know in the end it is leading you somewhere big.

I’m also enjoying the writing, and I came across this passage a few days ago and have thought about it every morning since, so I thought I’d pass it on.

“My father was never much one for whining. In the nineteen years I knew him, he hardly spoke of his turn in the Russian army, or of making ends meet with my mother, or of the day that she walked out on us. He certainly didn’t complain about his health as it failed.

But one night near the end, as I was sitting at his bedside trying to entertain him with an anecdote about some nincompoop with whom I worked, out of the blue he shared a reflection which seemed such a non sequitur that I attributed it to delirium. Whatever setbacks he had faced in his life, he said, however daunting or dispiriting the unfolding of events, he always knew that he would make it through, as long as when he woke in the morning he was looking forward to his first cup of coffee. Only decades later would I realize that he had been giving me a piece of advice.”

Not only an interesting turning point in the book, but pretty sound advice, right?

Here’s A Holiday Survival Tip: Lower Your Standards


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This may be the least motivating post I’ve ever written in the history of this site, but you guys: IT NEEDS TO BE SAID. I am really getting sick of reading the same old magazine articles with recycled tips and tricks about how to stay healthy during the holidays. That is not to say that I am above ever needing a good tip, or to say that some of them are not quite useful tips, but more that I am bored of hearing someone tell me that if I would just drink a big glass of water or eat a high fiber snack before my favorite annual Christmas party that I will magically forget how good deep fried mini-crab cakes and pumpkin cheesecake taste.

I’m sorry Fitness Magazine, but I have the memory of an elephant whether I am properly hydrated or not.  And food memories are powerful things.

When I was 21 and living in Los Angeles with my cousin Kelly and my gay husband Fredo, I had what I consider a moment I will never forget with a pumpkin cheesecake and indulge me while I tell about it. You see I was managing a coffee shop by day and by night I was participating in extracurricular activities that involved imbibing and inhaling and surely some other verbs that begin with the letter ‘i’ that I can’t quite remember right this second.  One night Kelly — who conveniently worked at the Costco right behind our apartment — brought home one of those ENORMOUS pumpkin cheesecakes that only Costco can sell while keeping a straight face.

We unwrapped it like it was a gift from the Baby Jesus himself and ate it straight out of the cardboard box that had originally contained it with no regard for manners whatsoever. Emily Post would have been horrified at the sight of us and probably even more so when we had had enough and we put away what was left of the cheesecake carcass (half eaten it still took up the whole top shelf of the refrigerator.) And because we were resourceful young whippersnappers, most concerned with kitchen efficiency, WE LEFT OUR FORKS IN THE CHEESECAKE.  And then we spend the rest of the week doing individual cheesecake drive-bys until the entire thing was gone.

I mean, it just made so much blissful sense at the time.

These days I’d never even bring one of those cheesecakes into my house, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a nostalgic little chuckle every single time I pass them in the refrigerator case during my weekly Costco run almost TEN YEARS LATER. Sometimes I consider snagging one for old times sake. I’ve certainly enjoyed a slice or two over the last decade at holiday parties and such (but with much less abandon, I promise.) And the thing about each time I off-road and enjoy that holiday treat, is that what warms my belly most is the memory of that time and place in my life when everything was so full of…well, LIVING!  No it was not the nutritional highlight of my life, but it was a highlight. And those are important too! And this is why I am growing so exhausted lately when I hear people groaning about trying to “be good” or worrying about how to make up for “being bad” with their food intake this time of year.

The holidays are a tough time to be healthy even for the most disciplined. And while I’m not advocating for everyone to just go off the rails for the next month and a half, I will tell you that as a fairly disciplined person myself I understand the struggle.  But I also don’t think every interaction with food during the weekends of November and December needs to have a strategy.

Everyday I try to eat a good breakfast. I prep myself healthy snacks and I enjoy them. I plan my meals with good intentions. When I have the opportunity to eat something green, I chow down! I drink a glass of water for every glass of wine, and while the wine opportunities are much more often during these months, I generally feel comforted by the fact that I try to do my best. I try to do my best everyday, not just during the holidays. So I am 100% ok with the fact that My Best during November and December looks a little different than My Best during the month of January.  And knowing that is a treat in itself. Everything is heightened this time of year and I don’t feel the least bit bad about lowering my standards.  If you are freaked out in the moment about lowering your standards, and have a hard time letting yourself off the hook, here are some things to think about:

*Pat yourself on that back for how far you’ve come, mentally and physically
*Get excited about where you are going, this year and next year.
*See the big picture.
*High five yourself for being willing to think big and work hard and don’t spend a minute beating yourself up for an indulgence here and there.
*Remember that this is real life and a night filled with min-crab cakes is not going to unravel everything

Then choose your indulgences wisely and then don’t give it another thought!

Clink a glass of your choice to your families and friendships. Toast to happiness and especially to the health that you work so hard for every single day of the year. Those pumpkin cheesecake filled moments with the ones you love are priceless and they won’t be around forever. Things change, lives change and who wants to be hand wringing over a glass of champagne or a bite of cheesecake when they can be laughing just a little bit too loud with an old pal. Sometimes we do ourselves a favor by lowering our standards.

This season, I hope you enjoy yourselves and your families.  Do your best to make good decisions — and that will look different for everyone. It has looked different for me every year since I went Paleo.  Trust your body to let you know if it needs a little detox or if it needs another bag of chips. And then tomorrow, get right back to it like you always do.

Worst advice ever? Who knows. But it’s how I’m being nice to myself this season. Have you thought about how you are going to be nice to YOU?

An update on Sir Buster-Boo

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Well, we have now had Buster for about 2 and a half months, and is it weird if I tell you I can’t really imagine him ever not being here? That’s a strange feeling, you all, especially because Garrett and I have lived together for 4 years without a dog, and this whole evolution from “squeaky clean house” to “every surface possible covered in dog hair” has definitely been dramatic.

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But we super duper love him, and now we just ALSO super duper love for bi-weekly swiffer-fests and hard core vacuum episodes and I’ve even been fantasizing about purchasing a steam mop. WHO AM I? It’s amazing how things change.

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Wow, just re-reading that made me feel like I should be buying Buster a precious white onesie and a “2 months old” sticker and doing a photo shoot with him sitting on our Ikea-knock-off wannabe Herman Miller furniture. (And then of course posting the pictures to Pinterest.) But I won’t do that, I promise. I also solemnly swear to never call him my “Fur-kid” even if that is totally how I treat him. Last week I bought him a jacket. I mean, HE WEARS A FREAKING FUR COAT ALREADY, but you guys it’s been really chilly around here! And besides there isn’t much cuter than a dog in a jacket. (Or quilted down vest, as it were.)

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Tough competition though is a dog standing next to a fire hydrant. We took him to a park across town the other day just for a change of scenery and I’m pretty sure I have now witnessed a dog’s mind being blown. Between the squirrels and the people and the other dogs and an actual dog park where he could run around to his little heart’s content — well, let’s just say he slept good that night.
Dog's Best Friend

He is also learning new skills, which has been fun to watch. When he showed up, if you remember (and I don’t expect that you do) he couldn’t fetch. He just…wasn’t interested in toys at all. I don’t really think he understood “toys.” He still doesn’t quiiiiiite get the whole idea of fetching, although he is making TONS of progress; however, now he TOTALLY gets how crazy fun his toys are and sometimes gets so focused we can hardly talk him into having a doggie photo shoot.

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Anyway, all of this to say — since I don’t have a kid I’m now becoming a crazy person who writes about her dog! Doggie-blogger! ha! But you know, I think I will wear that hat proudly because the laughs and the fun times that he has brought into our lives in the last two months have been awesome. Like the other night when he realized that if he barrels around the corner with a running start, he can get enough air to dive ONTO OUR BED OMG!!!!

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I want to tell you we disciplined him, but we were laughing too hysterically at his creativity. Luckily I think when he got up there he had no idea what to do (or even how to stand up) which freaked him out a bit and he hasn’t done it since. This strategy will surely be the chink in our parenting armor, but whatever. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

He’s a good boy this Honey Boo Boo/Buster/Buster-Boo/HBB little dog. Always offering a kiss and a snuggle, and of course if you would like to share your cookie with him, he will clear his busy schedule for that too.

Come on...just one bite.

What a guy. :)

Want To Build Confidence: Do Hard Things

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You know what’s hard? Posting pictures of yourself with bed head. :)

A few mornings per week I set my alarm for a little bit of an ungodly hour. I wake up. I write. I feed the dog. If he’s lucky he gets brushed and then I grab breakfast and head to work. Some days I get crazy and throw in a load of laundry. Morning is an important time in my house because it is definitely when I feel most productive. But I know this about myself, so I harness that — even when I don’t really feeeeeeeeeeel like getting up early.

Each month I set intentions. Sometimes by the end of the month I find them annoying and wonder to myself “Why did I even set out to do that in the first place?” Sometimes I high five myself for productivity. But having sat down and thought about what I wanted for the month gives me a road map. A compass of sorts. That list doesn’t get things done for me, but it does reminds me of what I really want. And sometimes it is hard to remember amidst the din of everyday life.

4 to 5 afternoons per week I lace up my sneakers after work and head over to American River CrossFit. The workouts are intense, heck, sometimes they even border on torture — but it’s temporary torture. The results, however, are not temporary and that is why I keep going back. Sure every once in a while when I get out of my car I think “Why I can’t just go hop on an ellipitical and watch the Food Network while on auto pilot and call it a day?” But I know myself and I know that for me, part of getting healthy is really KNOWING what my body can do. So I walk into that gym even when it feels difficult.

Some months I do nutty things that rub right up against the boundaries of my own happiness. But like my favorite T.S. Eliot quote says “Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” Despite people telling me I am whacky (confirmed: I am. I’ll admit it) I continue to do it. I document my life in public on this site. I throw in a nutritional challenge here and there. I do crazy experiments with my skin care. I make an arbitrary goal to post a certain number of recipes. I run a half marathon when I know I don’t reeeeeeeeeeeally have time to train. I know these things will be tough, but that is precisely why I do them.

When Garrett says, “Holly, let’s just be normal for a bit.” I always entertain this idea. Sometimes I entertain it because in the moment not pushing myself sounds really good. I even sometimes question myself during these moments — am I doing more harm than good? And that is a good question to continually ask if you are a person like me because sometimes things don’t just feel hard, they are hard. Challenging yourself and pushing your limits is great, but in the end nobody gets a medal for having a dramatic life. There is a difference between doing hard things as a challenge and letting things become hard due to poor time management or filling your plate too full.

But ultimately doing hard things is worthwhile, and I always *highly* recommend it to others. An easy life is a good life too, I’m sure. But here is the thing about committing to hard: when you finish, there is a very particular feeling. A good feeling. And it is a feeling that you won’t get if someone just hands you something. This feeling you get is that nothing is insurmountable. This feeling you get is that your skills have risen to the challenge. And they have. This feeling you get is confidence. And confidence is a need to have, not a nice to have. And while it is well within your reach, you can’t just pick it up on the Clearance End Cap at Target. You have to work for it.

But it is worth it.

Confidence comes from having experiences. Confidence comes from being well prepared. Confidence comes from being completely UN-prepared, scrambling to get through, and knowing that you don’t want that to happen again. Confidence comes from knowing yourself. Confidence comes from stretching yourself outside of your comfort zone and succeeding anyway. I don’t always KNOW I can do things, but in my heart of hearts, I always know that I can try. And if I try, there are only two possible options: I will either succeed or I will gather more information for my next attempt. Either way I’m moving forward, and to me that’s a win. And the best part? Building confidence doesn’t have to start with a long list of Stuff To Do. Sometimes it just starts with a thought. I’m a firm believer that what we think is what we become.

So what are YOU thinking about today?

Casual Friday

Casual Friday

Image via The Oatmeal

Happy Friday!

Would you like some disturbing facts?

(Of course you would!)

*There is only one more Friday standing between you and Thanksgiving.
*Black Friday is two weeks from today. (Do you Black Friday shop? Got your eye on anything in particular this year?)
*6 more Fridays and then it is Christmas Week! (Yes, it should be a week. Just like your birthday should be celebrated for a week. Duh.)
*7 more Fridays and then 2012 IS OVER. (whaaaaat?)

So that is sort of sobering. Not that I was drinking. It’s still morning guys! And I am NOT in New Orleans — unlike many of my favorite internet friends who are enjoying a fun weekend at The Blathering in NOLA. Can someone tell me if NOLA is an acceptable reference term? Or is it kind of like when people call San Francisco “Frisco” and then everyone rolls their eyes and dies. (Please PLEASE don’t ever say Frisco.)

Anyway, if you are there in New Orleans and reading this: GET OFF YOUR PHONE AND GO EAT BEIGNETS AND DRINK HURRICANES YOU SILLY GOOSE!

If you are not in New Orleans, stick around. I have many unimportant things to discuss excitedly!

(By the way, if you haven’t caught on by now this post is going to be all over the place. I’m full of too much Friday happy energy to stay focused.)

Ok maybe there are only two other things I wanted to discuss with you excitedly and then I will let you go enjoy your weekend:

1. Thank you for all of your questions yesterday. My inbox is a gold mine. And all of your comments were AWESOME! So much food for thought I want to answer them all at once. But if I did that, this blog would turn into many other weird stream of consciousness posts like this one, and well — one can only take so much of that. I’m trying to do YOU a favor. But I will answer them all. So if you emailed me or left a comment, rest assured it will be answered. And if you still have a question…shoot!

2. Lately I have been in a bit of a CrossFit funk. Not that I’m not enjoying myself — I am and, of course, I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. But with all the running I was doing for the half marathon, and all the Halloween candy I was consuming LIKE IT WAS MY JOB, the PRs were few and far between, you know? Shocker.

I think this is sort of normal — well, I mean, obviously I’m not going to be hitting PRs if I’m eating garbage and not showing up to the gym as much as usual — but I guess what I’m saying is plateaus are normal. But just because something is normal doesn’t mean it wasn’t still getting me down a bit. You see, after 2 years of CrossFitting I was kind of hitting that plateau where strengths stay strengths and weaknesses stay weaknesses. The stuff I still struggle with (pull ups, toes to bar, hand stand push ups, basically anything that involves the proportional relationship between your body weight and HANGING IT FROM A BAR OR PUSHING IT OFF THE GROUND UPSIDE DOWN) was just *not* getting better. So I would sort of dread those things when they showed up in workouts.

This week especially I’ve just been feeling really bummed about it. LOTS of pull ups and toes to bar lately, so every single workout was like my own personal gift of 10-20 minutes to think about how much I suck at hanging body weight exercises. YAY! But then…THEN! (This story has a happy ending, can you feel it?) Then, last night out of nowhere I just decided I was going to practice my toes to bar (which usually just means practicing knees to elbows as a progression– WHICH I ALSO HATE) and despite the fact that I have been trying and failing REPEATEDLY for the last two years to touch my god damn toes to the god damn bar: LAST NIGHT I DID IT.

I did this:

And I did it like I’ve been doing it my whole entire life! With ease. And I did it more than once! So it wasn’t just a fluke. How weird is it when that happens? Improvement of physical skills by osmosis. Well, except you know I don’t really think it is by osmosis.

An entire year after bitching about how close I was and still not being able to do it, I DID IT. And I felt REALLY FUCKING TRIUMPHANT. So of course that lit a little fire under me to keep working on the weaknesses. And despite the fact that working on weaknesses sounds like a total downer, excitement around it is actually a nice way to head into the weekend.

Have I mentioned I’m excited about the weekend?

TGIF!

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