Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Thank you in advance, Dr. Goodall.

The link above is an amazing interview that I think anyone could enjoy and find interesting!  I can't wait to have Jillian listen to it, as I regret not having learned more about Dr. Jane Goodall over the years.  I've always been familiar with her and her work, but somehow, this interview really struck a chord with me - her wisdom, patience, ability to tell a story, and her peaceful being, really...I feel better just having listened to her speak.

To be honest (because, have I ever not overshared my feelings on something?), the latter portion of this interview made me a little teary-eyed.  Not gonna lie, I was already, randomly feeling a bit emotional today, but I think part of it was that I found myself comforted by the fact that I was listening to someone that in many ways, reminded me of Jillian.  And because of that, it seems maybe she can identify with and learn from Goodall and her "Roots and Shoots" program for kids.

Jillian has a pretty consistent concern for, and desire to, change worldly issues.  I've seen how frustrating and overwhelming it can be for Jillian - to feel like an outsider, not always knowing how to communicate these concerns of justice and purpose that seem so much bigger than herself.  Now, I can share with her a person and their organization that will give her more tools and opportunities to confidently go forward on the path she chooses, feeling knowledgeable, empowered, and I hope, always at peace with her path in life.  

Thank you, Dr. Jane Goodall, for being the amazing person you are, doing the amazing things you've done and continue to do, and making it possible for our youth to learn from you and continue your work.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

A Sad Reality.

Upon telling Jillian goodnight a bit ago...the following conversation:

J:  Mommy?  I'm really jumpy at night...I'm afraid our house will catch on fire.  That's why I have all of my stuffed animals right here next to me.  So that if we have to get out really fast, they'll be easy to grab.

Me:  Munchkin, I don't think you have anything to worry about.  I understand that stuff like that can be scary, since it's sometimes unpredictable, but I think it's going to be fine.

J:  I know, I just really worry that something will happen.

Me:  I understand.  I think I remember having similar fears and concerns.

J:  Really?  I think I just get afraid because of the fire drills and lock-down drills at school...Lock-downs scare me the most, because you can usually put out a fire.  But with lock-downs, the person is out to get you.  And won't go away.

. . . 

J:  Were you scared during fire drills and lock-downs?

Me:  Well, we actually never had lock-downs.

J:  Really?  You DIDN'T?!

Me:  No...fortunately, that kind of thing just wasn't as big of a concern as it is now...

J:  Yeah, I worry that the bad guy will come in, and tell the principal to announce that we're just having a lock-down drill.  And that then the bad guy will be able to do whatever he wants.  So a lot of times, the drills happen when we're in P.E.  And we'll all be huddled in the gym, but like, some kids try to start to talk and goof off a little - and I'm always like, 'shut UP! This could be real.'"

Me:  I honestly had never even thought about that scenario . . .

Friday, February 5, 2016

When 100 Years Old Doesn't Look Like You Would Expect...

100th Day of School.  The students were challenged to "dress like you're 100 years old."  Only, something in my weird, creative brain was totally turned off by what I heard my son describe to me when the "assignment" came home:  "Everyone sprays their hair gray or white, and people dress old and walk with canes..."  Something prompted me to instead ponder with Everett the following questions:  "Hey, you're 100 years old - you're probably pretty healthy...what does that look like?  What kinds of things have kept you living till 100?"
That's right.  This poor kid is stuck with a mom that would rather think outside box than go with the status quo of dressing "old."  But y'all - let me clarify:  I'm not against looking "old."  In fact, I would rather look "old," than have surgeries to look "young."  I've never been one to try to "reverse the aging process," or to deny how old I am (35).  

Everett pretending to drink his "Green Juice," with an ingredient label that included (going off of memory here):  water, spinach, kale, apples, bananas, orange juice, ground flax seed, chia seeds, and cinnamon.  I normally add other ingredients to our Green Juice, but that was all I could fit on there. :)

I guess what I have learned over the last few years - especially since the kids have been in elementary school - is that I tend to want to go against the grain . . . and this inclination seems to be stronger and more purposeful when it involves our kids and them participating in things the way everyone else does them.  Stuff that would otherwise be pretty innocuous, black and white issues.  I've realized that I do not like being told how something is going to be, or how something just "is."  The reality is, I'm discovering why my kids seem to argue so much.  With everything.  Because, here I am, questioning something their school has pumped up and encouraged the kids to do.  I just don't like the notion of them following the masses because everyone assumes that's how it is.
Everett "Healthy at 100" - I stuck a label on the front of his shirt that says, "Want to be Healthy at 100?  Ask me how!!!"  If this were my first child, the label would no longer exist...she would definitely agree with the premise, but would likely prefer to not be approached by people regarding the topic.  Maybe that assumption is inaccurate, and she would argue otherwise, but regardless of how that would play out, I think it's safe to say that for our second child, he's more than happy to share this perspective with others!

Staying active and eating healthy can keep you feeling and looking young!  If only I could have also had him carry a little yoga mat and a sudoku book...there are definitely other factors that help one to stay young in mind and in body!

Maybe it's me trying to "train" Jillian and Everett to think for themselves.  Maybe it's the fact that being a Unitarian vegan has helped me learn that, "hey - you can think outside of the box AND be okay."  Because really, you can be MORE than okay.  You can be you.  You don't have to settle for "okay," for the norm, for the unquestioned, for the more traveled path.  And sometimes, taking that less-traveled path can be more challenging.  Sometimes, it's met with questions and obstacles along the way.  But as I imagine walking through this labyrinth of life choices and experiences, I envision little side roads that branch off from things that only appear to be walls along the way.  They branch off in a fashion similar to how I imagine neurons and dendrites within the brain.  (I know just about enough of that topic to know that providing an interesting link would be better than pretending to know more than I do.)
And that can't be a bad thing, right?  New neuron paths and dendrites are a good thing!

"Ask me how I'm so healthy at 100!"
Of course, it helps that Everett is willing and excited to do something unique that will allow/require him to explain himself.  For me, I just appreciate these little opportunities to create moments of conversation that might encourage development in the thought process.  I'm also thankful for the fact that Everett is in a school, with a teacher, that will embrace differences brought to the classroom.  Maybe she'll even encourage him to share the reasoning behind his noticeably different expression of what 100 years old looks like.  Even if she doesn't, I'm happy knowing that I've provided my child with a little bit of practice in being different, and owning those differences - whether they be physical, mental, spiritual, or otherwise.  These experiences in school and in childhood are what prepares us for a lifetime - of an unknown number of years - of accepting the challenge of learning who we are and taking that winding road of twists and turns that gradually shapes us and reshapes us into a constantly converting being, changed from both the inside and out, into something new each day, each hour, each minute.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

2016: Mexico and Slimming Down. In reverse order.

A few days ago, I posted on Facebook about my need for accountability.  Like, to the degree of probably being obnoxious, and I would be surprised if there weren't a few people who have "unfollowed" me/hidden my posts.  Either because of posting about workouts...or veganism...or being a Unitarian...or craft stuff.  Whatever, the case, I'm okay with that.  I'll own it.  I post a lot.  I write a lot within those sometimes too frequent posts.  It's just me, and I make no apologies for striving to keep it real!  

Alright, so back to the reason I REALLY need some accountability.  The company that Richard works for set some pretty high goals last year, but the heads of the company also made the promise that if all the goals were met, everyone in the company (plus significant other) would be treated to a trip to Mexico...specifically, Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya​ (flight, all-inclusive stay, etc.).  Both Richard and I kind of tried to not think too much about the trip or talk about it, but I definitely knew that he was working his tail off to do his part in making it happen.  Well, we found out this past week that the company met all the goals!  So Richard and I will both get to experience Mexico for the first time in April!  WOOHOO!!!

Buuuuuttttt, I've definitely got to slim down.  Not because I care what annnnyone thinks.  Because, I don't.  Well, except for me.  I care what *I* think of me.  And frankly, I've looked and felt better.  I know a big component is sleep.  And y'all, I'm TRYING.  I've been getting to bed earlier this last week, and my hope is that this will help some.  BUT - I also think that in training for a half marathon last year, I fell into the trap of eating too much, thinking it would be okay.  And, well, I definitely should've heeded the warning that you EITHER train for a longer race, OR train to lose weight, inches, etc. - but not both.

So we're going for the latter option now, friends.  I'm starting at roughly 166 pounds (yeah, I'm putting it out there...whatevs) - hoping to get a more exact number tomorrow morning, and I don't know that I really have an exact goal in mind...although, maybe I should.  I can tell you that between having J and E, I got down to 141.  That would be nice.  :)  But...not exactly a realistic, healthy goal before mid-April.  I think 10 pounds and more toned in roughly 80 days sounds good.

So let's go with that.  10 pounds and toned.

But...here's the kicker.  I'm changing things up even more starting February 1 when my membership to Lifetime will officially be "paused."  If you know me, you KNOW I've LOVED the classes and the teachers up there.  But when I found out that a friend of mine was opening her own Jazzercise program we decided to "pause" my LT membership until summer, to see how Jazzercise works out for me (the friend that opened it has made an amazing transformation, so I'm all, "I will do this if that's what I could look like..."`). I'm a teensy bit scared to not have the same, kick-your-ass instructors I'm used to, as well as really targeted strength training and regular yoga classes, but . . . doing Jazzercise Monday through Thursday, and probably Saturday mornings (the only days it's offered) for an hour each...it's gotta do something, right????

Anyway, my hope is that posting stats here daily will work the way it did, back in 2007/2008 when I was doing elliptical every.single.day. and got down to 141. Just knowing it's out there, somewhere, and that someone might be inspired by it, expecting me to keep up with it, etc. THAT is what I need to know.

I've also joined an accountability group on FB, started by a fellow vegan mama - yay! DOUBLE accountability!!!!

Stay tuned!!!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Soul Food in Tallahassee!!!

One of things I love most about being vegan is being "forced" to essentially narrow down restaurant options to those that are vegan-friendly, and often times, ALL vegan.  Such is the case with "Soul Vegetarian Restaurant," as they popped up on Yelp with awesome reviews (especially for their mac&cheese) AND with claims of half-off platters and sandwiches on Sundays...#nobrainer !!!

As we looked at the menu, we deliberated over what side to get with the famed mac&cheese (PETA deemed it as one of the top 5 vegan mac&cheese dishes in the country!)...When we couldn't decide, they offered samples...the kids and I tried the yams, and Jillian's reaction of wide eyes and "oh WOW!  Those are REALLY GOOD!" was echoed by the rest of us.  I also had the same reaction to the sautéed eggplant.  BEST eggplant I've ever had. 

This eggplant (below) was incredible.  I told J and E that I would give them a Jolly Rancher if they just tried a bite . . . Everett decided, "it's not worth it..." Jillian was very hesitant, but tried it and actually admitted it was "pretty good!"  

Richard and I got the black bean burger with sides of mac&cheese and yams and mac&cheese and eggplant, respectively.  
As if the picture above didn't already confirm it, yes, the mac&cheese was very much worthy of being lauded.  Just like the real thing...but waaaaay better!!!

This black bean burger was freaking.awesome.  It had a blend of bbq sauce, honey mustard, and cashew cheese on it, with the "usual fixins."  Richard even made the bold claim that it was the best black bean burger from a restaurant that he's had!  

The kids split a platter, after assurance from the lady working there that it would be plenty to split...that included a protein (they got TVP in bbq sauce - super yummy!!!!!), 2 sides, (mac&cheese and yams), and cornbread!!!!

This is half of the platter brought out for the kids, after I had divvied everything up . . . and apparently, after the cornbread had been sampled...

Comfort vegan food at its best, and a fantastic start to a vacation where I'll be cooking a lot less than usual!

A few family pics before hitting the road again:

Richard jokingly putting Everett in a sleeper hold, after I commented on how E should try to sleep some in the car, since he's had a bit of a fever (likely caused by having gotten the flu mist (a couple of days prior). 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Life and Greek Mythology, according to Jillian

It all started with Jillian talking about how sometimes her head gets overwhelmed to think about why she is the way she is, and then about the perspective on life and the way things are, as if she were someone else.  Then, because she said she feels like Greek Mythology has a more interesting way of describing how the earth and life, etc. came to be, she expressed something she mentioned earlier this week:  that it seems like there should be a different word used to describe "God."  And then, how, in GM, the gods are more of a *species* of their own (made up of gods and goddesses)...suddenly, she's telling me about "Chaos" (a force) creating "Gaia" (the earth/land, I believe), then Chronos, Uranus (yes, she giggled), Metas (sp?), etc.

She basically ended up spending about 30 minutes giving me detailed information on the chronology of how and what things happened in GM.  I told her that she should write down everything down/make a big poster or something that illustrates and describes the confusing nature of all of that stuff.  So now, naturally, she has announced, "I'm going to write a book on Greek Mythology!" . . . And is currently working on the cover page.

A little bit into our convo (we had both been working on projects in the craft room), I decided to use my voice recording app to get it all "on tape" - glad I did, because, as usual, there were giggles about this or that, me asking questions jokingly that referred to common expressions, and then cute things like the fact that somewhere in all of her explaining, she referenced something - I think a battle - and said, "that reminds me of a song...'Love is a Battlefield'" (I asked her if she knew who sang it, and she said, "Pat? . . . something.").  We eventually stopped talking because, "agh, I can't concentrate - I like this Foo Fighters song!!" (Richard had put on one of their records in the other room) . . . 

So there you have it - a little peek into the brain of my 9.5 year old daughter!  :)

This is what my crazy looks like.

Because, why wouldn't someone want to know what creative and crazy looks/feels like?

When you're so creatively inspired, that:

THAT'S what got you out of bed, but...

You force yourself to meditate for 10 minutes and slow down, after which...

You race downstairs to your craft room, where...

You can't move quickly enough to keep up with thoughts and ideas, so...

You create piles of fabric scraps that would seem like a mess to an outsider, but are quite the opposite from your own perspective, however...

The piles aren't enough - you must find paper and pen to make note of "categories" to create scraps of order within the piles so that all of your (literally) dozens of thoughts/ideas can be managed and addressed and properly categorized with corresponding fabrics, but...

Your brain and stomach keep yelling at you, "EAT SOMETHING, DAMN IT!"  So...

You begrudgingly run (yes, run - clearly that meditation is working) to the kitchen, and...

Since you have to wait on your oatmeal to finish cooking...

You decide that for whatever reason, people should know about the crazy that resides in your head, and so...

You finish your rapid-fire iPhone blogging while eating your (now ready-to-eat oatmeal), and...

You get back to the creative and crazy that sits in front of you: