Wednesday, September 25

Adventures in Gardening: Homemade Red Sauce

Yesterday I made my own sauce. I didn't know what to expect since I'd never done it before, but it was truly simple!

Here are my raw ingredients.
My garden's yield
No, I didn't put cucumbers in my sauce... That picture is just what I picked from my garden that day--about 30 tomatoes and two cucumbers! I didn't know how many tomatoes I'd get from four plants... I grew these plants from seeds--heirlooms from my bf's uncle--and they've been quite fruitful (pun intended). :)

(Not pictured: chopped red onion. I bought it pre-chopped because I really dislike cutting onions.)

I chopped and chopped and then simmered my veggies in olive oil.

Then I added the stars of the show: my sweet, sweet tomatoes!

I got all my ingredients mixed together. Looking delicious. And the smell? Oh, it's heavenly.

All the tomatoes cooked down nicely over the course of an hour. 

I thickened it up a little and it was ready to serve.

We ate fresh pasta from Giovanni Rana (our favorite). I have additional fresh pasta to eat with the leftover sauce!

This year's garden is just about kaput, but I'm inspired for next year already!

Wednesday, September 18

Conquering Asthma: breathing through my nose

I'm excited to share that I'm making significant progress on my asthma problem.

How do I know? Did I go to the doctor? (No, I don't even have insurance right now, so that's out of the question.) How do I know I'm getting better?

I ran my entire 12 mile long run on Sunday while breathing through my nose. That's right--no open mouth breathing, no gasping, no out-of-breath feelings. I ran 12 miles straight and didn't lose my breath. Not even going up (several) hills.

This is HUGE! I've been trying to breathe through my nose more as I run to help filter the air I take in (something useful when pollen and allergens are nature's confetti), but this was the first real run I did with NO mouth breathing.

I'm delighted.

I still take my rescue inhaler with me (better safe than sorry), and I still take my asthma medications every day (though getting them at a reasonable cost soon may be difficult if I don't find a way to get health insurance). But I feel so FREE when I don't need to THINK about breathing. Free! Free, at last!

This is a milestone for me. My body is strong enough to run the distance and my lungs can now keep up. I feel incredible.

Monday, September 9

One Thing at a Time

I am taking one thing at a time.

This is how I've been trying to live each day--one thing at a time, one minute at a time. If those minutes add up into hours, then it's one hour at a time. Hours to days, days to weeks. Weeks to months, unfortunately, is what this has turned into. Months of feeling lost.

I'm burned out from my personal life. I lost my health insurance, I don't have enough money to pay my bills, and I'm not eating enough to still run well. (Part of that is appetite and part of that is financial.)

I can run, but I tire so quickly. 3.1 is about all I can handle without feeling absolutely exhausted. Yet it never feels like enough. I can't even focus on my fall races right now. They're too far away (both time- and space-wise). I'm not sure how I'll get there and, if I get there, how well I'll run because my training plan is threadbare at this rate.

I'm trying.

I'm trying to focus more on professional endeavors, specifically teaching, because that is what brings me joy and, on days when I can't find that joy, it brings me momentary fulfillment. It distracts me from the problems in my personal life that I can't really do anything about.

I'm doing everything I can. Literally, I'm doing every single possible thing to help myself. And it's not enough to change things. So when all that's left is to worry, I need to shut off that valve so I don't pour more energy into that rabbit hole.

I'm really tired. Tired of applying for jobs I never hear back about. Tired of trying to turn unemployment compensation into a life. Tired of feeling like this situation won't improve.

I'm living check to check. I'm living sleep to sleep. I'm living blink to blink. One. Thing. At. A. Time. The poetry of mindfulness is lost on me some days because "being in the moment" requires more energy than I think I have left from worrying.

It's depressing.

Moments of "look how far you've come" are overshadowed by weeks of worry chalked up to bills I can't pay and jobs I don't have. I'm working harder than I've ever worked for anything and I've got nothing to show for it. Looking to see how far I've come isn't a fair comparison anymore. I feel no farther along because I want change--big changes, like not having to worry about finances, being able to get my medication, and being excited about life.

I'm plodding along.

One thing at a time. Everything "extra" has been shorn from my budget and, somehow too, my life. But I'm persevering. I'm keeping on.

Thursday, September 5

Sunshine Award: My time in the sun

I was nominated to receive the Sunshine Award by my pal Becki at Fighting for Wellness! This award is given to those who inspire us and bring sunshine into the lives of those who nominate others.

The relationship I have with Becki is purely online, so I feel special to be included in her nominees. We met through her blog. I've been part of fundraising for her first marathon, my own Arbonne Fit Kit experience, and a Facebook-based holiday wellness challenge. It's delightful to know someone who cares about many of the same things that I do. What a sweetheart!

Here are the rules for the Sunshine Award:

  1. Include award logo in a post on your blog.
  2. Link to the person who nominated you.
  3. Answer 10 questions about yourself.
  4. Nominate 10 bloggers to receive the award. 

Okay, so here are the questions Becki asked me...

1. When is your favorite time of day to work out?
Usually I like to run after work. Sometimes it's a struggle to get myself going, but once I'm running I am fine. If we're talking the weekend, then I enjoy Saturday late morning.

2. What is something you never thought you'd be able to do, but you've accomplished in spite of the obstacles?
Well, I'm a runner, which is a huge accomplishment for me. After breaking my left foot twice in college (I'm really good on crutches), my podiatrist told me the only time I should run would be to run away from something. Fortunately my foot is stronger than she thought. I started running almost two years ago (November 2011) and haven't looked back. I've struggled with my asthma more than my foot pain, but I still persevere with my asthma because it's actually gotten a lot better from running. I run as part of the fabulous Oiselle VolĂ©e team and couldn't be happier about that.

3. Do you have a go-to splurge item? What is it and when do you have it?
Oiselle gear. Gosh, I could buy every item they ever made. It's high-quality, fashionable running clothes for women. And the logo is a bird! I love, love, love birds! I try to reward myself with "mental money" for doing tough stuff (usually $1 per tough thing). When the mental money adds up to $100, which takes awhile, then I allow myself to shop. Who doesn't love new running gear?!

4. How do you make time for yourself?
I try to make every morning breakfast about just breakfast so I can chill a little, eat, read a magazine, or just sit in the quiet to wake up. Some mornings this isn't possible, but I like not rushing around to get going.

5. Where would you live if money were no object?
Probably San Francisco so I could enjoy a balmy summer. Then again, visiting Nevada and Utah were awesome because of the desert air and beautiful scenery. Ooo, but if we're going to get particular, I could easily live at Fallingwater here in Pennsylvania. What an awesome place.

6. Who is your go-to person for advice when you're trying to make a tough decision?
I have one friend I've known since middle school (you know who you are) and we take turns bending each others' ears. We don't get to talk or see each other much these days (heck, we're in different time zones!), but she always finds a way to help me. I always call her. 

7. What is the strangest food or fitness trend you've tried?
Anything I list isn't weird enough. It's been awhile since I tried anything truly outrageous. But I've tried liver. (Could we just not call it by its anatomical name? It would be much more appetizing, I think.)

8. What are you most looking forward to in the next 12 months?
Right now planning the next 12 months seems basically impossible because of my situation. One day at a time is enough. But hopefully I'll be able to get on my feet financially with a new job. I'm hoping my teaching gig will continue to go well too. 

9. What is your favorite childhood memory or family tradition?
When my youngest brother was born, I was only 6 years-old. I couldn't contain my excitement. I made him toys out of paper and tape--a rattle (crumpled paper with some rice in it, taped shut) and a doll (tissues folded up and taped together, with rubber bands for legs and arms). I spelled his name wrong on the card I made, which was a travesty because my name was always spelled wrong (!), but mom said it was okay. I loved having a baby brother. 

10. Do you follow a strict food and fitness plan or wing it? 
Oh, I definitely wing it a little too much. I have a training calendar I'm not following too well right now and I need to get back on that wagon. I also haven't been super careful about what I eat since doing the Arbonne Fit Kit in June. I like to plan things, but things like this in my own life seem to take last place sometimes.  

My 10 Nominees

1. Abby (@nycrunninggirl) 
Oiselle teammate and fellow nap aficionado :)

2. Katie (@katieeand)
Oiselle teammate and has a whole tab for "Puppies" on her blog

3. Danielle (@FoodosaurusRex) 
Oiselle teammate and super foodie friend

4. Kristy (@pghrunner)
hometown Pittsburgh girl I met at a race who knows her running game

5. Paulette (@paulettezf) 
Oiselle teammate and wicked awesome runner

6. Ayesha (@musingfootfalls) 
Oiselle teammate and darling of the SW

7. Catherine (@eatrabbitfood) at Rabbit Food for My Bunny Teeth, 
inspiring "you can do it" attitude and great pro-veggie blogger

8. Amanda (@risenbird) at One Mile to Go, 
Twitter pal who kicks my butt motivates me 

9. Sarah (@sarahchan) 
Oiselle teammate and beautiful newlywed

10. Regina (@rfaura) 
Oiselle teammate and awesome mommy-runner inspiration

And here are my questions for you, ladies!

1. What one thing do you do before you work out? (Race day superstition? Habit? Helpful hint?)
2. How do you keep running when you are mentally spent?
3. Since you're all on Twitter: what do you get out of your interactions on Twitter?
4. Do you go to races alone or is someone waiting there for you/running with you? Any reason why?
5. Would you rather run in boiling humidity or below zero temps? Why?
6. What is your favorite OMG-I-shouldn't-be-eating-this-but-it's-delicious snack?
7. Why do you blog? What's your motivation?
8. Someone is giving you a million dollars, but you can't spend it on yourself: what would you do?
9. What are your two favorite songs to listen to when running?
10. Have you ever struggled to get motivated? What helped? (If you haven't struggled with motivation, what keeps you going?)