as a single gal, i delve back into the world of cooking for one! very much afraid of using the bbq but not scared of much else! i fully believe that there is a reason for everything and whatever is meant to be will be. I am truly the eternal optimist and looking at bright skies ahead! In the meantime, I am busy baking, cycling, practicing hot yoga, learning ballet and of course adapting recipes and cooking for those I love!
a few months ago a friend asked me to join her in a race that is honestly dubbed "the craziest frickin' day of your life" and without hesitation I of course agreed! Mt Morris, Michigan was the host of the event which, with over 24,000 participants, was the 2nd largest race location in North America this year. She convinced me with the description that it's just 3 miles with a few obstacles....
i'm coming over the wall, pink shirt far left
So turns out that my friend Mary is no longer able to join me so I find a few other people I know who are racing and set up to meet them there. I pack a change of clothes, wet wipes, a towel, sunscreen, extra socks, extra shoes, lots of water and thanks to the advice of a new found Twitter friend, clean undies. I grab my passport and head for the border. When I get to the US side, the customs agent asks where I'm headed and after I briefly explain he asks how many people have died doing this. Not the vote of confidence I'm hoping for but I assure him I can do it and that I will likely come out with a few bruises but hopefully unharmed. He wishes me luck and I'm on my way! I pick up my sister along the way and just over an hour later we arrive in Mt Morris to this giant extravaganza of mud, beer, turkey legs and viking horns!
through the mud, under barbed wire
So the race is 3.2 miles to be exact and there are 12 obstacles including but not limited to scaling walls, jumping through tire mazes, crawling over junked cars, meandering over horizontal ropes, crawling under a tarp about a foot off the ground in complete darkness, crawling over giant logs in a lake, a few various bouts with barbed wire (crawl over, crawl under), jumping over fire, wading through chin high mud and then climbing up and down hills of mud, scaling a rope all and then yes swiming through mud under barbed wire to the finish line. I've missed a few descriptions there but really some can't be explained with words! It was really pretty amazing and some of the challenges that I was worried about before the race such as pulling myself over the walls with rope or scaling up the side of a wall was a breeze when put there before me. There was camaraderie between runners that spurred you on as well as the shared thought that "I can't believe I'm frickin' doing this!". Coming out of the muddy swamp a nice gentlemanly runner ahead of me helped me up the shore line and the one behind offered to push me ass forward should I need further assistance.
As I came in toward the finish, the announcer noticed my shirt and starts yelling in the mic "Here comes Canada!! Come on Canada give us a cannonball (meaning into the mud pit) and then starts singing the national anthem!! Lol crowd is now cheering Canonball Canada and unfortunately I let them down. Now frickin' way was I canonballing in to that!
I made my way under all the barbed wire and did give the photographer a little puddle jump at the end so I could get a good photo :) Post run was pretty sketchy - my apologies to the guys parked near us as I practically showered behind the car. What? Standing in my clean underwear isn't the same as bikini bottoms?? I successfully changed out of my dirty bra into a new one (thank you Flashdance for teaching me those moves) then my sis squirted water on me while I wet wiped & toweled off. Don't worry mom, I had the decency to wrap a towel around my waist while I changed undies...
Now I never doubted I can do the run - I can do 3 miles in my sleep pretty much but I was pretty daunted ahead of time for some of the challenges. Each new obstacle under my belt fueled me forward and completing all of them and the run in 50min makes me very happy. I'm not scared of much in life anymore these days and now after this, I know that there is an inner warrior inside me and she can pretty much do anything she sets her mind to. Now tomorrow back to the 1/2 marathon training...
ps I'd also like to extend my apologies to the other shoppers in Target & Whole Foods who likely thought I severely needed a bath and/or qtips as I did have mud still in my ears, under my nails and god only knows where else. I've now taken a handful of probiotics (you never know what was in that water) and I'm off to bed :)
In preparation for tomorrow's Warrior Dash I opted for a quiet night in with Miss Ruby and we spent the evening chilling and watching Sex in The City - The Movie.....yet again. I think it's pretty common for any woman around my age group to have identified with this lovely show and most likely feel a draw towards at least one of the characters most resembling themselves. I'm not sure who I would be - honestly probably a mixture of all of them. However, in my current state of affairs, I guess I do lean a bit towards Carrie although I certainly do not have her waistline and could likely only pull off about half of her outfits!
So watching tonight makes me yet again count my blessings for the amazing friendships that I have in my life. Kindred spirits that pick you up through the challenges, glow with pride when you succeed, worry for you when you struggle and laugh their tails off when you "pekoupsie" in your pants! Each time I watch this movie, my heart breaks and I feel tears come from somewhere deep down, when Carrie gets out of the car and beats Big with her bouquet and screams "I am humiliated!"in a way that anger comes out of you & you can hardly breathe. She turns to her Charlotte and holds on so tight, in almost that she will break if she lets go. The look in Charlotte's eyes when she is protecting Carrie, glares at Big and screams "No". That fierceness, that anger, that love for her friend - it's safe to say that everyone needs a Charlotte.
My Charlotte's name is Jessica. I love her with every bit of my heart for the way that she loves me with this same fierceness. This tiny, little pixie of a woman is stronger than anyone double her size. She has been my heart since we first met in Grade 8 - I believe I was wearing red jeans (the Carrie side of me!). It was at a church dance and I'm pretty sure I was the loudest & most obnoxious one there. Not much has really changed in that sense. When T & I separated and I confided in her what was happening before I had the guts to tell anyone else, she cried along with me and told me I'd be ok. And I'm pretty confident that she cried for a bit after and worried for me non-stop. A few months ago, she phoned me to tell me how proud she was of me - of my strength, my tenacity and my positive outlook. She told me that no matter what the issues were that this was for the best - that she could see all the good things in me shining and that I looked beautiful & healthy and that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Then, a few weeks ago I got the fiestiest email from her, all fired up over the whole situation and she had found my divorce theme song!! The email contained not only the video & a link to the full lyrics, but a whole lotta love, (including a few f-bombs) and I quote her, "all fired up!!" about good things ahead.
I'm pretty sure that as Charlotte thought of the perfect opening line to say to Big (I curse the day you were born!), Jess has her own choice words that she has dreamt in her head to say to T one day. There really are a million and one things I could tell you about her - she is an amazing mother, a great teacher, the more beautiful half of a great couple (sorry John!), and most importantly, she's just overall full of wonderful. She's my Charlotte - standing up for me while at the same time holding me up, giving me the strength to keep standing, head held high and facing forward. She's small but mightly and she'd kick your ass to defend me and everyone else that she loves. She & the kids call me and leave messages on my phone (that I continually save and play over and over when I need a pick me up). She says "I love you" before we hang up the phone which warms my heart everytime. She's the one crying & singing at the top of her lungs to Beyonce while driving because that's how much she loves me.
So tonight, as I head to bed, I fall asleep thankful. Thankful for my Charlotte. I love you Jess xo
lol well that should fetch an interesting crowd - it's funny to me when I look in my stats page to see what search terms bring people to my blog. Surprisingly "girl running in wet t-shirt" and "Ke$ha in bikini" are two very popular ones!
Anyways... so last night I was invited over to one of my good friends home for dinner & sauna as her parents were in visiting from Mexico. Now those of you who know me well, know that I could literally eat Mexican fare each and every night and go to bed happy. Honestly I think I ate Mi Casita 3 times in one week this month!!! And now here was our chance to eat everything made with love, from scratch by such a wonderful woman!
Now in knowing that I was about to partake in a less than calorie conscious meal choice I opted to run the 4.6 miles to their house to make way for a few more tacos! Soph met me there and her, Julie and I enjoyed a lovely pre-dinner sauna. So, there we were....three naked chicks in a sauna (enter search term!) Sauna really is one of the things I miss most about Finland. It was almost a religious experience there - you were always invited to people's homes to sauna, and at this time of year likely jump in the lake rather than shower! It's such a lovely time to just sit back, let the heat surround you & open all your pores and just sweat out all the impurities and worries. So we just sat there, sweat and talked about the important things in life - fashion, boys & food!!
We sat down to then enjoy AMAZING chicken flautas and gorditas - I, the complete loser, was shocked to hear that such a thing as gorditas existed as I figured it was a term that Taco Bell had thought up!! Maria made the bottom layer that was similar to say a dense corn tortilla or a corn tortilla-pancake, then smothered in beans, crazy-good chicken in a homemade chipotle sauce, diced avocado, cilantro, onions and hot sauce. It was so beyond delicious I can't even tell you and as I'm typing this I'm hungry for them again!
So it was another lovely night with friends, tacos and ice cream cake. Blessed I tell you, I'm truly blessed. xo
there are just some things that are meant to be forever and some things that are only meant for a short while. our greatest challenge in life is usually deciphering between the two and knowing when to let something or someone go.
but letting go and moving on allows for even better things to come your way. so for each ending, we should choose to view it as a new beginning, new opportunity and room to grow.
Some days it's easier than others. Some days it's a conscious effort.
But day after day I choose happiness.
I choose not to let anger consume me. I chose to forgive and move forward and not dwell in the past but rather to look forward at what's ahead and be conscious of what and who is around me.
No one's life is perfect even if it seems to be. We all have trials. We all struggle, whether it's inward or internalized. Look past what you perceive to be perfect and be thankful.
Hate & anger will live in your heart as long as you let them. You will never be free of them unless you let them go. There are things beyond our control. We can't control what people do or say, but we do have the final say in how we react to them.
Siblings truly are your first friends - they love you just because. It's not for any other reason other than you are just all of a sudden in their lives, every moment, sharing every memory and experience together. You speak sometimes without words and laugh at inside jokes that no one else could, or would want to, understand. You are allies together against parental control and one of you paves the way for the other. You fight, you bicker, you sometimes wrestle, you call names, you say "I know you are but what am I?" until the other person comes close to exploding with anger. If you are like my sister you would hold your finger 1/2 an inch away from me and say "I'm not touching you..." a thousand times until I exploded with frustration. They are who you complain about to your friends but they are also whom you would fight to the death for and whom you'd be the first to defend if anyone else dare to say anything bad about them.
My sister and I have had our share of differences - we are similar in some ways but different in most. We used to wear tights on our heads when we were little to pretend we had ponytails rather than the bowl cuts our mother bestowed upon us. We would play "Lisa & Lora" which was simply us changing our names to Lisa & Lora and playing our usual games just so that we felt we had slightly more "normal" names. When we shared bunk beds she would tell me stories at night to help me fall asleep. At fifteen she sat me down and taught me how to smoke cigarettes so that I wouldn't look stupid if someone offered me a smoke at a party. We were pretty much night & day in high school - she barely went a week without a detention and I went the entire 5 years of high school without a single one. I wear my emotions on my sleeve while she tends to hold hers closer to her heart. She is the first one to go to bat for me when I need someone to fight for me and I have no doubt that she would be the victor when it came down to it.
This week was her birthday - today we celebrated with a family pool party and bbq at my aunt & uncles under the 40* sunshine. With lamb burgers, turkey burgers, watermelon & goat cheese salad, rice salad, potato salad, sweet potato hummus and warm homemade artichoke dip, we lounged and ate and laughed. Then we had cake! Yet another lovely carrot cake however I do think my best recipe concoction yet!!
In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, flax seeds and chia seeds. In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, agave and oil. Stir carrots and walnuts into wet ingredients. Stir wet ingredients into dry. Place batter into 2 well greased 9" cake pans.
Bake at 325° for 35 minutes. Cool to room temperature and spread with cream cheese frosting & serve.
1 container soy cream cheese
1/4 cup almond milk
3 tbsp dark amber maple syrup.
1/2 cup shredded white coconut
Combine first 3 ingredients in stand mixer until smooth and creamy - add more milk as needed. Add in coconut and stir by hand until mixed. Ice between the two layers of cake and on the top layer. ENJOY!!
There are moments where sometimes gratitude escapes me but at the end of each day I do try to find at least a few things to be grateful for, whether it be here online or in my journal. I think it keeps me grounded and looking forward and above all else it ensures that some of my last thoughts before my head hits the pillow are positive ones. Now some days my gratitude involves others, sometimes it's things within me that I am thankful for. It could serve us all well to try to find those moments, people, tangible items or even memories that evoke a smile within us. Some days it's when Ruby snuggles right up next to me like a little kitty spoon, or moments on a run when I feel like my legs are strong, or gluten-free ice cream cones enjoyed on a sunlit patio (such as this evening!)
Lately I've been really thankful for people - those who have always been in my heart and new friends who have recently found their way in. I know I started this year with the goal to let people know just what they mean to me and now, halfway in, I pledge to try to continue that resolution through the next half and onwards. The one saving grace in seeing my marriage fail is knowing, truly, that some people really do come in to your life for a reason. So, though I wasn't meant to be married to T forever, I was meant to love 24 amazing nieces and nephews, 6 great siblings and their significant others, and a set of parents who (despite our initial challenges) do love me. When I hear my mother-in-law tell me that she can't wait for the day that I find love again and have the marriage and family that I hope for, I know that I was meant to be a part of this family even if only for a decade. There are many great friends whom I would likely have never met, never loved, never cherished, had my relationship with T not existed. And yes, perhaps there would have been others who would have come in to my life but somewhere inside me I know there is a kindred spirit that I share with these people.
And it's not just limited to people. I would not have moved back to Windsor, worked at other jobs where again I met amazing people who became some of my best friends, owned my own business or moved to Europe. Experiencing these things were all great life moments that I would never be the same without so they are all the things I choose to be grateful for. Lord knows I could be angry, I could let bad feelings fester inside me, talk crap about T to anyone who would listen but what good can come of that. There is no moving forward or welcoming good to your life if you are consumed with anger or ill-will. I am a better person, a stronger person, for all of this. And for everything, I am grateful.
This post has taken me over a week to write! I don't know why - I'm not offering any life-shattering advice or coming up with insanely funny shit like Beyonce the metal chicken. It's just been a busy week! So the weekend before last was July 1st, the 144th birthday of Canada. It would have also marked the 11th anniversary of when I first met T. I wasn't really looking forward to the date as i spent the prior week unloading boxes of my former life. I guess I can expect that as the 'first' of everything goes by that it won't ever feel great but that in a way, each first will be one step closer to moving forward. And as much as I worried that it would be a hard date to deal with, it actually ended up as pretty close to perfect as you can get. I spent the weekend in cottage country with friends and was able to just sit back, relax and reflect on pretty much everything. It's almost amazing the kind of clarity one can get looking out at this beautiful view, with the sun warming your skin and the sound of laughter filling your heart. Since I grew up with camping as our annual vacation, being in the woods really does make it feel like summer has arrived and that all is right with the world. For once, I may not have the words to describe just how perfect the day was but here is a recap.
As always, I am the first one up in the cottage so I am in charge of coffee, though usually I've finished off half the pot before anyone else joins me! I pulled my legwarmers on, grabbed my notebook and took my mug down to the dock before the rest of the world awoke. After a few yoga poses to get the blood flowing, I just relaxed to enjoy this view and then let the words escape my mind and fill the pages of my notebook. On days like that I felt like I could write forever. It was like I was at the perfect spot that I needed to be, to take a moment to just reflect and try to figure out what I want going forward. (Let it be said that my next prince charming would do well to have his own cottage and boat somewhere in the Muskokas!!) The dragonflies were my only friends out there with me and they welcomed the sunrise along side me. One by one, others awoke and breakfast was made and then were were all on the dock. Kids jumping in and splashing, books being read and laughing - lots and lots of laughing. Every time Hassan took the boat out, I was on it. I totally fell in love - sitting in the front (I'm sure there is some tech. term for it) with the wind whipping my hair and the water splashing up and the world just hushed by all these trees around us. Then there was tubing - I WISH we had thought of video taping that segment of the day as I almost a. cried b. crapped my pants and c. lost said pants (ok really I did lose my pants but I managed to grab them and put them back on before the boat swung around to pick me up!! Thank GOD! There was a moment where I was laughing and screaming because I was simutaneously loving it and fearing for my life! The best part was when I got back in the boat and Hassan told me that he had the throttle all the way down and couldn't believe I held on. Great! Later that day when more friends arrived we went for a more docile tour of the lake and as I sat there I realized that being there, in that moment, I was changed for the better. Here I was with friends - some I have known for over 15 years - enjoying my country and my freedom, in beautiful weather with great food and even greater memories. I was the lucky one. I know I will fall in love again and I know I will have the fairy tale that I've always imagined but moments and friendships like this, you can't get again later in life. You just have to treasure them. These are people that you have grown with and loved and shared so many life moments with. They've seen me at my best and my worst and love me all the same. They are like family - which is truly one of the best gifts in the world.
So as we gathered around the campfire that night and attempted to trick others with "black magic", gazed at the stars using Hassan's ipad to determine which constellations we were looking at, and listened to the grown men teaching themselves how to play the acoustic guitar while attempting to sing along, a peace settled in to my heart. I'm still happy - despite it all - my heart is still happy and grateful and looking ahead.